Joan Plowright

Joan Plowright
The Right Honourable
The Lady Olivier
Born Joan Ann Plowright
28 October 1929 (1929-10-28) (age 82)
Brigg, Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actress
Years active 1951 – present
Spouse Roger Gage (1953-1961)
Laurence Olivier (1961-1989)

Joan Ann Plowright, Baroness Olivier, DBE (born 28 October 1929), better known as Dame Joan Plowright, is an English actress, whose career has spanned over sixty years. Throughout her career she has won two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy, and two BAFTA Awards. Joan Plowright is also one of only four actresses to have won two Golden Globes in the same year.


Early life

Plowright was born in Brigg, Lincolnshire, the daughter of Daisy Margaret (née Burton) and William Ernest Plowright, who was a journalist and newspaper editor.[1][2] She attended Scunthorpe Grammar School and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


Plowright made her stage debut in 1951 and her London debut in 1954. In 1956 she joined the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and was cast as Margery Pinchwife in The Country Wife. She appeared with George Devine in the Eugène Ionesco play, The Chairs, Shaw's Major Barbara and Saint Joan. In 1957 she co-starred with Sir Laurence Olivier in the original London production of John Osborne's The Entertainer, taking over the role of Jean Rice from Dorothy Tutin when the play transferred from the Royal Court to the Palace Theatre.

Plowright continued to appear on stage and in films such as The Entertainer (1960). In 1961 she received a Tony Award for her role in A Taste of Honey on Broadway. Through her marriage to Laurence Olivier, she became closely associated with his work at the National Theatre from 1964 onwards.

From the 1980s she began to appear more regularly in films, including Enchanted April (1992), for which she won a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination, Dennis the Menace (1993), a cameo in Last Action Hero (also 1993), and Tea With Mussolini (1999). She was also Nanny in 101 Dalmatians (1996).

Among her television roles, she won another Golden Globe Award and earned an Emmy Award nomination for the HBO film Stalin in 1992 as the Soviet dictator's mother-in-law. In 1994, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.[3]

In 2003, Plowright performed in the stage production Absolutely! in London. Plowright was appointed honorary president of the English Stage Company in March 2009, succeeding John Mortimer, who died in January 2009. She was previously vice-president of the company.[4]

Plowright was awarded a CBE in 1970 and was made a Dame (DBE) in the New Year's Honours of 2004.

Personal life

Plowright was first married to Roger Gage, an actor, in September, 1953.

She divorced him, and in 1961 married Laurence Olivier, after the breaking of his 20-year marriage with esteemed actress Vivien Leigh. Plowright has continually denied that she was responsible for wrecking their marriage.

Together the couple had three children, Richard Kerr, Tamsin Agnes Margaret and Julie-Kate. Both daughters are actresses.[5] The couple remained married until his death in 1989.

Her brother, David Plowright CBE (1930–2006), was an executive at Granada Television.


The Plowright Theatre in her native Scunthorpe is named in her honour. Upon her marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier, her formal title became "Lady Olivier"; however, she has never used it in her professional career. Her husband later became a life peer on the Queens honours list in 1970. This legally made her Baroness Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex.



External links

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