Margaret Leighton

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Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton 1959.JPG
Leighton in 1959.
Born (1922-02-26)26 February 1922
Barnt Green, Worcestershire, England, UK
Died 13 January 1976(1976-01-13) (aged 53)
Chichester, Sussex, England, UK
Cause of death Multiple sclerosis
Years active 1938–1976
Spouse(s) Max Reinhardt
(m. 1947; div. 1955)

Laurence Harvey
(m. 1957; div. 1961)

Michael Wilding
(m. 1964)

Margaret Leighton, CBE (26 February 1922 – 13 January 1976) was an English actress,[1] known for her exquisite sense of grandeur and refinement. Her film appearances included Under Capricorn (1949), Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), Carrington V.C. (1955) and The Best Man (1964). For The Go-Between (1971), she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Leighton began her career on stage in 1938, before joining the Old Vic and making her Broadway debut in 1946. A four-time Tony Award nominee, she twice won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play; for the original Broadway productions of Separate Tables (1957) and The Night of the Iguana (1962). She also won an Emmy Award for a 1970 television version of Hamlet.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, Leighton made her stage debut as Dorothy in Laugh With Me (1938), which was also performed that year for BBC Television, she became a star of the Old Vic. Her Broadway debut was as the Queen in Henry IV (1946) starring Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson during a visit to America of the Old Vic company, which performed a total of five plays from its repertoire before returning to London.

After appearing in two British films, including the starring role of Flora MacDonald opposite David Niven in Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) and in the popular The Winslow Boy (also 1948), the tall willowy actress played second female lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949) starring Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten and Michael Wilding. She starred with Walter Pidgeon in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer crime/mystery Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951).

Leighton won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Separate Tables (1956); she won another Tony in that category for The Night of the Iguana (1962), playing the luminous Hannah Jelkes (a role played by Deborah Kerr on film) opposite Bette Davis's Maxine Faulk. Leighton was nominated for Best Actress in a Play for Much Ado About Nothing (1959) opposite John Gielgud and for Tchin-Tchin (1962) opposite Anthony Quinn. She portrayed the wife of an American presidential candidate (Henry Fonda) in the 1964 film The Best Man, written by Gore Vidal.

She had a noteworthy list of TV appearances, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey and Burke's Law, she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Drama for Hamlet (1970) and she was nominated for an Emmy in 1966 for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama for four episodes of Dr. Kildare. Her last appearance on Broadway was as Birdie Hubbard in a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1967) starring Anne Bancroft as Regina Giddens.

For her film role as Mrs. Maudsley in The Go-Between (1970) Leighton won the British BAFTA Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, she received a BAFTA nomination for Best British Actress for her role as Valerie Carrington in Carrington V.C. (1955). She received a Hollywood Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Go-Between.

Personal life[edit]

Leighton had three husbands: publisher Max Reinhardt (1947–55); actor Laurence Harvey (1957–61); and actor Michael Wilding (1964–76), her death). She had no children, she was awarded the CBE in 1974. Leighton died of multiple sclerosis in 1976, aged 53, in Chichester, Sussex.




  • Laugh With Me (1938) (BBC) ... Dorothy
  • As You Like It (1953) (BBC) ... Rosalind
  • ITV Play of the Week (1955) (Series) (ITV) episode "A Month in the Country" ... Natalya Petrovna
  • Theatre Royal (1956) (Series) (ATV London) episode "The Triumphant" ... Marion
  • Suspicion (1957) (Series) (NBC) episode "The Sparkle of Diamonds" ... Miss Perry
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958) (Series) (CBS) episode "Tea Time" ... Iris Teleton
  • Playhouse 90 (1959) (Series) (CBS) episode "The Second Man" ... Miss Kerison
  • DuPont Show of the Month (1959) (Series) (CBS) episode "The Browning Version" ... Millie Crocker-Harris
  • ITV Play of the Week (1960) (Series) (ITV) episode "Gaslight"
  • Ben Casey (1964) (Series) (ABC) episode "August is the Month Before Christmas" ... Leila Farr
  • Burke's Law (1964) (Series) (ABC) episode "Who Killed Everybody" ... Connie Hanson
  • Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1965) (Series) (NBC) episode "Where The Woodbine Twineth" ... Nell Snyder
  • Dr. Kildare (1965) (Series) (NBC) 4 episodes ... Chris Becker
  • Dr. Kildare (1965) (Series) (NBC) 1 episode ... Paula Winfield
  • The F.B.I. (1966) (Series) (ABC) episode "The Chameleon" ... Amy Hunter
  • The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (1966) (Series) (NBC) episode "The Lethal Eagle Affair" ... Gita Volander
  • All on her Own (1968) (BBC) ... Rosemary
  • An Ideal Husband (1969) (BBC) ... Mrs. Cheveley
  • Hamlet (1970) (NBC) ... Gertrude
  • The Upper Crusts (1973) (series) (ITV) ... Lady Seacroft
  • Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) (NBC) ... Francoise DuVal
  • Great Expectations (1974) (NBC) ... Miss Havisham
  • Space: 1999 (First Season, ep. "Collision Course") (1975) (ITC) ... Arra

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Work Result
1955 BAFTA Award for Best British Actress Carrington V.C. Nominated
1957 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Separate Tables Won
1960 Much Ado About Nothing Nominated
1962 The Night of the Iguana Won
1963 Tchin-Tchin Nominated
1966 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance in a Drama Dr. Kildare Nominated
1971 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Hamlet Won
1972 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress The Go-Between Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Won


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, 21 January 1976, page 111.

External links[edit]