Anderson, Dame Judith

Paramount grabbed quite a cultural coup when legendary actress Dame Judith Anderson appeared as Vulcan High Priestess T’Lar, the savior of Spock and restorer of his katra in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

It was quite a leap for this grand lady of theatre, who was actually born Frances Margaret Anderson-Anderson in Adelaide, Australia in 1897. She soon moved to New York where she made her name in the plays of Shakespeare and other classics, eventually ruling the Broadway stage from the 1930s-1950s. She originated Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, played Olga in Chekov’s Three Sisters and Lady Macbeth opposite Laurence Olivier at London’s Old Vic, and then won a Tony for what became her signature triumph as Medea in a new version of Euripides' tragedy.

Beyond the stage, Anderson enjoyed much supporting actress work in Hollywood beginning in 1940 with her Oscar-nominated turn as Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock’s Rebecca, among others Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Ten Commandments and Laura.  TV’s prestige specials claimed her talents too, including filmed presentations of Madea and Macbeth, the latter bringing her two Emmy Awards. Still, in later years she indulged her love of the soap opera Santa Barbara to play Minx Lockridge in the mid-1980s, and then as with T’Lar went far afield to play an aged Sioux Indian matriarch in 1970’s A Man Called Horse. 

Anderson acquired her honorific title in 1960 when bestowed as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, and in 1991 was further recognized by being named a Companion in the Order of Australia. Late in life she moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., and died there of pneumonia in 1992.

 

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