Two-time Oscar winner and former Labour MP Glenda Jackson has been hailed as a one-of-a-kind talent of the likes we will “never see again” following her death aged 87.
The worlds of showbiz and politics paid tribute to the star, who “died peacefully” at her home in London’s Blackheath on Thursday morning following a brief illness.
Sir Michael Caine said it was a “privilege” to star opposite Jackson for their upcoming film The Great Escaper, 48 years after their screen debut in The Romantic Englishwoman.
The double Oscar-winner, 90, said: “Glenda was one of our greatest movie actresses. It was a privilege to work with her on The Great Escaper recently, our second film together.
“It was as wonderful an experience this time as it was 50 years ago. I shall miss her.”
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party where she served for more than 20 years, said: “She leaves a space in our cultural and political life that can never be filled.
“She played many roles with great distinction, passion and commitment.
“From award-winning actor to campaigner and activist, to Labour MP and government minister, Glenda Jackson was always fighting for human rights and social justice.
“As a fellow north London MP, I know how much she was loved and respected by her constituents.”
I was very sad to hear of Glenda Jackson’s passing. She leaves a space in our cultural and political life that can never be filled.
She played many roles, with great distinction, passion and commitment. From award winning actor to campaigner and activist to Labour MP and…
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 15, 2023
Sir Keir also evoked her famous appearance on Morecambe and Wise as Cleopatra, with a play on her line, “All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got”.
“We will never see talent like what she has got again,” he added.
Jackson won the best actress Oscar in 1970 for Women In Love and again three years later for A Touch Of Class – although opted not to attend the ceremony on either occasion.
Despite her successful career, which also included two Emmy Awards and a Tony, Jackson previously said she never had any interest in the social and glamorous aspects of the industry.
She gave up acting for politics more than a quarter of a century ago and served as a Labour MP for 23 years.
Tony Blair's tribute on the passing of Glenda Jackson: pic.twitter.com/KzpRyhC8db
— Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (@InstituteGC) June 15, 2023
Jackson was elected as MP for Hampstead and Highgate in 1992 and served as a junior transport minister from 1997 to 1999 during Sir Tony Blair’s government – in which she called for his resignation and considered standing against him.
Sir Tony tweeted: “Glenda brought the same great passion to her political life as she did in her long and glorious acting career.
“A truly formidable woman who will be much missed. My sincere condolences to Dan (her son) and all who knew and loved her.”
She held her Hampstead and Highgate seat from 1992 to 2010 and again from 2010 to 2015 as MP of Hampstead and Kilburn, following constituency boundary changes.
Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, paid tribute to her predecessor as a “very supportive mentor” and “formidable politician”.
She tweeted: “Devastated to hear that my predecessor Glenda Jackson has died.
“A formidable politician, an amazing actress and a very supportive mentor to me. Hampstead and Kilburn will miss you Glenda.”
Jackson stood down as an MP at the 2015 general election and returned to acting, winning a Bafta award in 2020 for her role in BBC film Elizabeth Is Missing, which follows the story of a woman suffering from dementia.
Last month, she watched the screening for what will be her posthumous appearance in The Great Escaper alongside Sir Michael, which tells the true story of a Second World War veteran who escaped from his care home in Hove, East Sussex, to attend a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France.
Oliver Parker, director of the film, said it was the “privilege of a lifetime” to work alongside Jackson, adding: “She had such fierce intelligence, such passion, and fearlessness.
“It is hard to believe that it was less than a month ago that we screened the finished film for her and Michael – she was as feisty and vibrant as ever, and we will treasure the memory of that emotional and happy day.”
Jackson said she only started acting after failing her school certificate, leaving her with no option but to start working at the age of 16.
She previously told the Times magazine of her childhood on the Wirral: “Listen, I come from a family where if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. That was the class structure.”
After joining a friend at the YMCA amateur dramatics society while she was working at her local Boots store, she went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada).
She starred in a number of roles during her career, including Sunday Bloody Sunday, Mary, Queen Of Scots and Elizabeth R, as well as a guest appearance in an episode of The Muppet Show.
Jackson once said she would “probably” turn down a damehood if she were to be offered one, because “what does it actually mean?”