Dame Margaret Rutherford DBE (May 11, 1892 – May 22, 1972) was an Academy Award-winning English character actress, who first came to prominence following World War II in the film adaptations of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
As an infant, Rutherford was taken to India, but was returned to Britain when she was three to live with her aunt, Bessie Nicholson, when her mother died. She was educated at the independent Wimbledon High School and at RADA.
Having worked as a teacher of elocution, she went into acting later in life - making her stage debut at the Old Vic in 1925 at the age of thirty-three. However, her physical appearance was such that romantic heroines were almost out of the question, and she soon established her name in comedy, appearing in many of the most successful British films of the mid-20th century. "I never intended to play for laughs. I am always surprised that the audience thinks me funny at all," Rutherford wrote in her autobiography. In most of these films, she had originally played the role on stage. She married the actor Stringer Davis in 1945. They often appeared together in films.
In the 1950s, Rutherford and Davis adopted the writer Gordon Langley Hall, then in his twenties. Hall later had gender reassignment surgery and became Dawn Langley Simmons, under which name she wrote a biography of Rutherford in 1983.
In 1961, Rutherford first played the film role with which she was most often associated in later life, that of Miss Marple in a series of four films loosely-based on the novels of Agatha Christie. Rutherford, now at the age of 70, insisted on wearing her own clothes for the part of the spinster detective, Miss Jane Marple, as well as insisting that her husband appeared alongside her.
Rutherford won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe for The V.I.P.s (1963), as the absent-minded Duchess of Brighton, opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. She also surpassed herself in Chimes at Midnight in 1966. She acted the part of Mistress Quickly so well, that Queen Elizabeth II entitled her as a noble lady.
She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1961, and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1967.
She suffered from Alzheimer's disease at the end of her life. Sir John Gielgud wrote: "Her last appearance at the Haymarket Theatre with Sir Ralph Richardson in The Rivals, an engagement which she was finally obliged to give up after a few weeks, was a most poignant struggle against her obviously failing powers."
|1936||Talk of the Devil||Housekeeper|
|Dusty Ermine||Evelyn Summers aka Miss Butterby, old gang moll|
|Troubled Waters||Bit role||uncredited|
|1937||Missing, Believed Married||Lady Parke|
|Catch As Catch Can||Maggie Carberry|
|Beauty and the Barge||Mrs. Baldwin|
|1941||Spring Meeting||Aunt Bijou|
|1943||Yellow Canary||Mrs. Towcester|
|The Demi-Paradise||Rowena Ventnor|
|1944||English Without Tears||Lady Christabel Beauclerk|
|1945||Blithe Spirit||Madame Arcati|
|1947||While the Sun Shines||Dr. Winifred Frye|
|Meet Me at Dawn||Madame Vernore|
|1949||Passport to Pimlico||Professor Hatton-Jones|
|1950||The Happiest Days of Your Life||Muriel Whitchurch|
|Her Favorite Husband||Mrs. Dotherington|
|1951||The Magic Box||Lady Pond|
|1952||Curtain Up||Catherine Beckwith/Jeremy St. Claire|
|Miss Robin Hood||Miss Honey|
|The Importance of Being Earnest||Miss Letitia Prism|
|Castle in the Air||Miss Nicholson|
|1953||Innocents in Paris||Gwladys Inglott|
|Trouble in Store||Miss Bacon|
|1954||The Runaway Bus||Miss Cynthia Beeston|
|Mad About Men||Nurse Carey|
|Aunt Clara||Clara Hilton|
|1955||An Alligator Named Daisy||Prudence Croquet|
|1957||The Smallest Show on Earth||Mrs. Fazackalee|
|Just My Luck||Mrs. Dooley|
|1959||I'm All Right Jack||Aunt Dolly|
|1961||On the Double||Lady Vivian|
|Murder, She Said||Miss Jane Marple|
|1963||Murder at the Gallop||Miss Jane Marple|
|The Mouse on the Moon||Grand Duchess Gloriana XIII|
|The V.I.P.s||The Duchess of Brighton||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1964||Murder Most Foul||Miss Jane Marple|
|Murder Ahoy!||Miss Jane Marple|
|1965||Chimes at Midnight||Mistress Quickly|
|The Alphabet Murders||Miss Jane Marple||uncredited cameo|
|1967||A Countess from Hong Kong||Miss Gaulswallow|
|The Wacky World of Mother Goose||Mother Goose||voice|