- Billie Whitelaw
imagesize = 150px
name = Billie Whitelaw
birthname = Billie Whitelaw
birthdate = Birth date and age|1932|6|6|df=yes
location = flagicon|England
Coventry, England, United Kingdom
yearsactive = 1950 - 2002/ 2007
spouse = Peter Vaughan (1952-1966)
Robert Muller (1967-1998)
baftaawards = Best Supporting Actress
1969 "Charlie Bubbles"
Billie Whitelaw, CBE (born
June 6, 1932) is a distinguished English actress of both stage and film. The actress has won multiple BAFTAawards and Evening Standard British Film Awardsfor her film work and has appeared in many prestigious theatrical productions in a career spanning more than fifty years.
One of the most notable aspects of her diverse acting career has been her renowned twenty-five year collaboration with Irish playwright
Samuel Beckett. Whitelaw is regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of his works, and continues to gives lectures on her experiences working with Beckett. Their collaboration has produced some of the most distinctive and innovative techniques in experimental theatre. In 1991, Whitelaw was awarded the CBE.
Whitelaw was born in
Coventry, Warwickshire, the daughter of Frances Mary (née Williams) and Gerry Whitelaw. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/43/Billie-Whitelaw.html Billie Whitelaw Biography (1932-) ] ] She grew up in a disadvantaged neighborhood and attended the Thornton Grammar Schoolin Bradford. At age 11, she began performing as a child actor on radio programs and later worked as an assistant stage manager at a provincial theatre.
After training at
RADA, Whitelaw made her stage debut at age 18 in London1950. She made her film debut in "The Sleeping Tiger" (1954), followed by roles in " Carve Her Name With Pride" (1958) and " Hell is a City" (1959). Whitelaw soon became a regular in British films of the 1950s and early 1960s. In her early film work she specialized in blousy blondes and secretaries, but her dramatic range began to emerge by the late 1960s. She starred alongside Albert Finneyin " Charlie Bubbles" (1967), a performance which won her a BAFTAaward as Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She would win her second BAFTA as the sensuous mother of college student, Hayley Millsin the disturbing psychological study " Twisted Nerve" (1969). She continued to add memorable roles to notable films including " Leo the Last" (1970), "Gumshoe" (1971), and the Alfred Hitchcockthriller " Frenzy" (1972).
Whitelaw gained international acclaim for her chilling role as Mrs. Baylock, the evil guardian of the demon child Damien in "
The Omen" (1976). Her performance was considered one of the most memorable of the film, winning her the Evening Standard British Film Awardfor Best Actress. Other notable films included the hopelessly naive Mrs. Hall in "Maurice" (1987), one of two sisters, with Joan Plowright, struggling to survive in war-time Liverpool in " The Dressmaker" (1988), the fiercely domineering and protective mother of psychopathic twin murderers in " The Krays" (1990), a performance that earned her a BAFTA nomination, and the blind laundress in " Quills" (2000). She returned to film, in a comedic turn, as one of the village residents in " Hot Fuzz" (2007). According to Simon Pegg, his wife accidentally referred to her as "Willie Bitelaw".
In 1963, Billie Whitelaw met the famed Irish playwright
Samuel Beckett. She and Beckett enjoyed an intense professional relationship until his death in 1989. He wrote many of his more experimental plays especially for her, referring to Whitelaw as "A Perfect Actress". Whitelaw became Beckett's muse, as he created, reworked and revised each play while she physically, at times to the point of total exhaustion, acted out each movement. She would explain in lectures on how "He used me as a piece of plaster he was molding until he got just the right shape". [ [http://partners.nytimes.com/books/97/08/03/reviews/970803.03dickstt.html#hear An Outsider in His Own Life ] ] They collaborated and performed plays such as "Play", " Eh Joe", " Krapp's Last Tape", " Happy Days", " Not I", " Footfalls" and " Rockaby" for both stage and screen. Although other actresses have attempted Beckett's plays, Whitelaw remains the foremost interpreter of the man and his work.
Whitelaw has also appeared frequently on television and won acclaim for her work. She won a BAFTA award as Best Actress for her performance in "The Sextet" (1972), the
BBCadaptation of Thomas Hardy's " Wessex Tales" (1973), " A Tale of Two Cities" (1980), " A Murder of Quality" (1991), "Jane Eyre" (1996), "Merlin" (1998), and "A Dinner of Herbs" (2000).
Married first to the actor
Peter Vaughan, whom she divorced, Whitelaw later married writer and drama critic Robert Mullerwith whom she had a son. Her autobiography, " Billie Whitelaw... Who He?," was published by St. Martin's Press(published in 1996). Whitelaw currently lives in Hampstead, Londonand continues to work on stage, films and television. She regularly gives lectures on the Beckettian technique.
Her son, who had lent
Edgar Wrightthe use of his flat for " Shaun of the Dead", persuaded his mother to come out of retirement and accept the role of Joyce Cooper in " Hot Fuzz". [cite web | author = Paul Fischer | title = Interview: Edgar Wright for Hot Fuzz | publisher = Dark Horizons | date = 2007-04-09| url = http://www.darkhorizons.com/news07/fuzz2.php | accessdate = 2007-05-18]
A photo of her is on the cover of the Smiths' double A-side '
William, It Was Really Nothing/ How Soon Is Now?'. Whitelaw also had an affair with actor Albert Finneywhile he was married to Jane Wenham.Fact|date=March 2008
Hot Fuzz" (2007)
*"Jane Eyre (1996)Grace Poole
The Krays" (1990)
Terror in the Aisles" (1984)
*"Camille" (1984) (TV)
The Dark Crystal" (1982) (voice)
*"Private Schulz" (1980)
*"The Water Babies" (1978)
The Omen" (1976)
*"Night Watch" (1973)
The Adding Machine" (1969)
Twisted Nerve" (1968)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (TV)
Make Mine Mink" (1960)
No Love for Johnnie" (1960)
Dixon of Dock Green" (1955) (TV)
*imdb name|id=0925794|name=Billie Whitelaw
* [http://ubu.wfmu.org/video/Beckett-Samuel_Not-I-Whitelaw_1973.avi Video of Billie Whitelaw performing Beckett's "Not I"]
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