Entertainment

Two-time Oscar-winning actress turned Labour MP Glenda Jackson dies age 87

Jackson ‘died peacefully’ at her home in Blackheath, south-east London, her agent said.
Jackson ‘died peacefully’ at her home in Blackheath, south-east London, her agent said. Jackson ‘died peacefully’ at her home in Blackheath, south-east London, her agent said.

Veteran actress and former politician Glenda Jackson has “died peacefully” after a brief illness at the age of 87, her agent has confirmed.

The screen star and former Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate won the Oscar for best actress 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.

Her agent, Lionel Larner, said: “Glenda Jackson, two-time Academy Award-winning actress and politician, died peacefully at her home in Blackheath, London, this morning after a brief illness, with her family at her side.

“She recently completed filming The Great Escaper in which she co-starred with Michael Caine.”

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.

The Great Escaper
The Great Escaper Sir Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson in new film The Great Escaper (Rob Youngson/PA)

The double Oscar-winner gave up acting for politics more than a quarter of a century ago and served as a Labour MP for 23 years.

Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, which was Jackson’s constituency from 2010 to 2015 after she previously held the old seat of Hampstead and Highgate from 1992 to 2010, 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.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “His thoughts are with her friends and family in what must be a very difficult time.

“He obviously thanks her for her incredible public service and for the incredible career she had in acting as well.”

Jackson was elected as the Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate in 1992, and served as a junior transport minister from 1997 to 1999 during Sir Tony Blair’s government.

Diane Abbott, who became a Labour MP in 1987, paid tribute to Jackson on Twitter.

Tagging Jackson’s son, Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges, she wrote: “Very sad to hear of the death of Glenda Jackson.

“I served alongside her in Parliament for many years. She was a kind and extremely principled woman.”

Jackson stood down as an MP at the 2015 general election and returned to acting.

She won a Bafta for best actress for her 2019 role in Elizabeth Is Missing, which followed the story of a woman suffering from dementia.

Jackson recently finished filming The Great Escaper alongside fellow double Oscar-winner Sir Michael Caine, with whom she last acted 48 years ago in The Romantic Englishwoman.

Their new film tells the story, inspired by true events, 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.

Elizabeth Is Missing
Elizabeth Is Missing Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth Is Missing (Marsaili Mainz/BBC/PA)

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).

HEALTH Wise/Jackson
HEALTH Wise/Jackson Comedy duo Morecambe and Wise with Glenda Jackson as Cleopatra in 1971 (PA)

She also played Egyptian queen Cleopatra in 1971 for an episode of The Morecambe & Wise Show with comedy duo Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

Speaking to the Radio Times about working with the late pair, whose popular show consisted of a mixture of sketches and stand-up comedy, Jackson said: “Oh, I loved working with them.

“I found it extremely difficult to restrain my laughter when we were doing Cleopatra.”

Jackson also recalled her experience of working with late theatre director Peter Brook on a 1967 production of Marat/Sade, describing him as a “genius”.

She also once said she would “probably” turn down a damehood if she were to be offered one, because “what does it actually mean?”