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British Oscar winner and politician Glenda Jackson dies aged 87

Glenda Jackson - pictured here at the 2019 Met Gala - has died at the age of 87
Glenda Jackson - pictured here at the 2019 Met Gala - has died at the age of 87 Copyright 2019 Invision
Copyright 2019 Invision
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The late powerhouse's agent confirmed she had died peacefully following a brief illness with her family at her side.

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Glenda Jackson, the Oscar-winning actress and former MP, has died at the age of 87, her agent has announced.

The British trailblazer, who won two Academy Awards for Women In Love and A Touch of Class as well as two more nominations and was an international star in the 1970s. At the height of her career, she gave it all up for politics, acting as a Labour MP in north London from 1992 until 2015.

In a statement, her agent paid tribune, saying: “Glenda Jackson, two-time Academy Award-winning actress and politician, died peacefully at her home in Blackheath, London this morning after a brief illness with her family at her side”.

Jackson joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964 and her big break came a year later in Peter Brook's stage production of ‘Marat/Sade’. After a critically acclaimed run in London, she transferred with the production to Broadway and, in 1967, appeared in a film version of the same play.

The AP
Jackson in 1971 with her Oscar for 'Women in Love'The AP

In 1969, she won her first Oscar, for best actress for the film adaptation of DH Lawrence’s iconic novel Women in Love and, in 1971, she cemented her status as one of the world’s foremost dramatic actresses for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the BBC’s series ‘Elizabeth R’. Jackson played the Tudor monarch from young to old, even going so far as to shave her head to add to the illusion of the ageing process.

Her next Oscar win came in 1973, when she played against George Segal in romantic comedy A Touch of Class as a British divorcee in an acting turn hailed as understated and, suitably, full of class.

For Jackson, the transition to politics was a natural one - at the age of 56 she stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate in the 1992 general election and, at the time, said: "The best theatre is trying to tell the truth - and the best politics is trying to tell the truth".

She successfully won the Hampstead and Highgate seat, overturning a two decade-long Conservative majority in the constituency.

AP
Jackson in 1997 -at the height of her political powerAP

After a failed attempt at becoming the Mayor of London, Jackson was a fierce critic of Tony Blair’s New Labour approach to politics and was vocal against the invasion of Iraq.

In 2010, thanks to constituency boundary changes, Jackson hung onto her parliamentary seat - but only just, with a tiny majority of 42 votes.

She was not afraid to speak her mind and, in the wake of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013, Jackson drew criticism across the political spectrum for saying Thatcher “had inflicted heinous social, economic and spiritual damage upon the country".

Jackson decided to retire from politics in 2015 and, at the age of 79, she returned to acting, playing a 104-year-old in a BBC Radio 4 production ‘Emile Zola: Blood Sex and Money’.

In 2016, she trod the boards once again, taking on the role of King Lear in Shakespeare’s play of the same name at the Old Vic. Her performance drew huge praise, with the Daily Telegraph saying it was "one of those 11th-hour feats of human endeavour that will surely be talked about for years to come".

Invision
Glenda Jackson arrives at the 72nd annual Tony Awards in New York, 2018Invision

As recently as 2018 and 2020, she continued to win accolades for her acting skill - scooping, respectively, a Tony Award on Broadway in a revival of Edward Albee's ‘Three Tall Women’ and a Bafta TV Award for her performance in Elizabeth is Missing, about a dementia sufferer.

As well as a month-long career retrospective at the British Film Institute in London in July last year, Jackson’s agent confirmed that, shortly before her death, she had completed filming on the upcoming movie The Great Escaper, in which she played alongside Michael Caine.

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