Virginia McKenna OBE

 

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With Bill Travers, she starred in the box­ office hit, 'Born Free' (1965), based on the work of gamekeeper George Adamson and wife Joy with lions in Kenya, and the following year they made 'The Lions Are Free' (1967), a documentary about the lion cubs of Born Free. Subsequently, she and Travers established a charity called Zoo Check (later the Born Free Foundation), reflecting their concern for protecting wild life, and they appeared in several animal ­oriented films, including ‘An Elephant Called Slowly’ (1969).

She continued to work on the stage until the early 60s, with Old Vic and RSC seasons; appeared in international films, including ‘The Wreck of the Mary Deare’ (1959) and ‘Waterloo’ (1970.) Returned to the screen in two cameos: in Staggered (1994), as a Scottish recluse, and Sliding Doors (1998), fleetingly as John Hannahs mother.

She has continued to appear in TV dramas with a striking role in 'The Scold's Bridle' (1998). Although her stage performances have been infrequent, they have still been significant, and include playing Desiree Armfeldt in 'A Little Night Music' at the Adelphi (1976); winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a musical for her performance in 'The King and I' (1979) with Yul Brynner; and, with the RSC, playing Queen Gertrude to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1984 & 1985).

She now is at least semi-retired although he has been appearing in TV dramas such as 'The Whistle-Blower' (2001) as Theresa Elliot and 'Marple: A Murder Is Announced' (2005) as Belle Goedler.


In 2004, she was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List for services to the arts and animal conservation.

Autobiographies:

Suggested films to see:

Born Free (1966)
Carve her name with pride (1958)
A town like Alice (1956)












 

 

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