Maggie Smith [Margaret Natalie Smith] (1934-) b. Ilford, Essex, England.
Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Cross on December 28th, 1934, in Ilford, Essex. Smith’s family moved to Oxford in 1939, where from 1947 she attended the Oxford High School for Girls. A student at the Oxford Playhouse School, she made her stage debut as Viola in Twelfth Night with the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1952. Four years later she was on Broadway, performing in Leonard Sillman’s New Faces Revue. She joined the Old Vic Company in 1959. Gaining increasing critical esteem for her notable performances, Smith joined the National Theatre, where she played in Othello (1963), Hay Fever (1966), and The Three Sisters (1970), among others. Maggie Smith made her credited film debut in Ealing thriller Nowhere to Go (1958), this was followed by such films as The VIPs (1963), The Pumpkin Eater (1964), and an Oscar-winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). In 1970 Smith was awarded the CBE. The following year she left the National Theatre.
During the 1970′s Smith accepted roles in frivolous sleuthing films, Dora Charleston, the wife of David Niven in the droll Murder by Death (1976), and two all-star Agatha Christie whodunits, Death on the Nile (1978), and Evil Under the Sun (1982). Her later stage work included Virginia (1980) and Lettice and Lovage (1988) She received an Oscar for her role in Neil Simon’s California Suite (1978), and BAFTA Awards for her roles in the Michael Palin comedy A Private Function (1984), E.M. Forster adaptation A Room With a View (1986), and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987). She was created a dame commander, Order of the British Empire, in 1990. In 1992 she co-starred in the comedy blockbuster Sister Act (1992), and reprised the same role in the contrived sequel Sister Act 2 (1993). She has also appeared in The Secret Garden (1993), Richard III (1995), and Tea with Mussolini (1999). A susequent role as the imperious Countess of Trentham in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2002) earned Smith yet another Oscar nomination.
She earned worldwide recognition after accepting the role of stern, shape-shifting Professor Minerva McGonagle in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), as she reprised the role in the sequels, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Elsewhere, she has appeared in Ladies in Lavender (2004), a compelling period drama based on a short story by William J Lock, and the laboured black-comedy Keeping Mum (2005). Put simply, Dame Maggie Smith is one of the world’s greatest stage and screen actresses of recent generations.