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Judith Olivia Dench

9 December 1934 (1934-12-09) (age 74)
York, Yorkshire, England, UK
English film, stage and television actress.

She made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She branched into film work, and won a BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer, however most of her work during this period was in theatre. Not generally known as a singer, she drew strong reviews for her leading role in the musical Cabaret in 1968.

During the next two decades, she established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. In television, she achieved success during this period, in the series A Fine Romance from 1981 until 1984 and in 1992 began a continuing role in the television romantic comedy series As Time Goes By.

Her film appearances had been infrequent until she was cast as M in GoldenEye (1995), a role she has played in each James Bond film since. She received several notable film awards for her role as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown (1997), and has since been acclaimed for her work in such films as Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal (2006), and the television production The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2001).

Regarded by critics as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, and frequently named as the leading British actress in polls, Dench has received many award nominations for her acting in theatre, film and television; her awards include ten BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award.

She was married to the actor Michael Williams from 1971 until his death in 2001. They are the parents of the actress Finty Williams.

In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one in polls for Britain's best actress. Research to find "the perfect voice" has indicated that Dench's voice is one of the best.

In 1995, she took over the role of M (James Bond's boss) with the James Bond film series, starting with GoldenEye. She is the only actor from Pierce Brosnan's Bond films to remain in the franchise. She has appeared in Casino Royale (2006) and its direct sequel Quantum of Solace (2008).

She has won multiple awards for performances on the London stage, including a record six Laurence Olivier Awards. She also won the Tony Award for her 1999 Broadway performance in the role of Esme Allen in David Hare's Amy's View. Alongside her numerous award winning performances, she has also managed to take on the role of Director for a number of stage productions. Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Judi Dench has frequently appeared with her close friend Geoffrey Palmer. They co-starred in the series As Time Goes By, where she played Jean Pargetter, becoming Jean Hardcastle after she married Lionel Hardcastle. The program spanned nine seasons. They also worked together on the films Mrs. Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, both filmed in 1997. Dench has also lent her voice to many animated characters, narrations, and various other voice work. She plays the role of "Miss Lilly" in the children's animated series Angelina Ballerina (alongside her daughter, Finty Williams, as the voice of Angelina) and as Mrs. Calloway in the Disney animated film Home on the Range. She has narrated various classical music recordings (notably Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Britten's Canticles-The Heart of the Matter), and has appeared in numerous BBC radio broadcasts as well as commercials. Her many television appearances include lead roles in the series A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By. In the U.S., As Time Goes By has been repeated on PBS and on BBC America.

Dench returned to the West End stage in April 2006 in Hay Fever alongside Peter Bowles, Belinda Lang and Kim Medcalf. She finished off 2006 with the role of Mistress Quickly in the RSC's new musical The Merry Wives, a version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Dench's more recent film career has garnered six Academy Award nominations in nine years for Mrs. Brown in 1997; her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love in 1998; for Chocolat in 2000; for the lead role of writer Iris Murdoch in Iris in 2001 (with Kate Winslet playing her as a younger woman); for Mrs Henderson Presents (a romanticised history of the Windmill Theatre) in 2005; and for 2006's Notes on a Scandal, a film for which she received critical acclaim, including Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

In 2007 the BBC issued The Judi Dench Collection, DVDs of eight television dramas: Talking to a Stranger quartet (1966), Keep an Eye on Amélie (1973), The Cherry Orchard (1981), Going Gently (1981), Ghosts (with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Gambon, 1987), Make and Break (with Robert Hardy, 1987), Can You Hear Me Thinking? (co-starring with her husband, Michael Williams, 1990) and Absolute Hell (1991).

Dench, as Miss Matty Jenkins, co-starred with Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis, in the BBC One five-part series Cranford. The series began transmission in the UK in November 2007, and on the BBC's U.S. producing partner station WGBH (PBS Boston) in spring 2008.

Dench became the voice for the narration for the updated Walt Disney World Epcot attraction Spaceship Earth in February 2008.

In February 2008, she was named as the first official patron of the York Youth Mysteries 2008, a project to allow young people to explore the York Mystery Plays through dance, film-making and circus. This culminated on 21 June with a day of city centre performances in York.

She worked on the 22nd Bond adventure Quantum Of Solace and reprised her role as M.

She is interested in horse racing and in partnership with her chauffeur Bryan Agar owns a four-year-old horse, "Smokey Oakey", who won the 2008 Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

She returns to the West End from 13 March-23 May 2009 in Yukio Mishima's Madame De Sade, directed by Michael Grandage as part of the Donmar season at Wyndham's Theatre. In February 2010, she will play Titania in Peter Hall's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre Kingston Upon Thames, with Titania being seen as a portrait of Elizabeth I of England in her later years.
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