First Ever Biography on Tony and Olivier Winner Vanessa Redgrave Due May 15
By: Ellis Nassour
The very first biography on an actress widely acknowledged as the greatest of her generation, Vanessa Redgrave, is due on May 15 [Pegasus Books; 416 pages; SRP $29]. Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave by film scholar and arts journalist Dan Callahan (Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman) covers her marriages, affairs, political activism and legendary five-decade career on the West End and Broadway and roles in over 80 films. Miss Redgrave published an autobiography in 1994.
Controversial, fearless, loyal, outspoken, radiant, and unpredictable are adjectives used to describe Miss Redgrave. Callahan, also an associate editor at Siman Arts Works, publishers of unique art books, "takes stock of Vanessa Redgrave both as actress and as political activist with a critical, objective study of her life and unparalleled career achievements."
Respected trade Publishers Weekly is hailing the book as one of the Top 10 Performing Arts Books of the Spring. Syndicated columnist and author Liz Smith has called the bio "fascinating and masterfully written… a fully-schooled lesson on the woman most of her peers think of as the greatest living actress."
Her political activism often put her at odds with pro-Israel factions, such as the Jewish Defense League, but never diminished acclaim for her brilliance onstage. Along with her late father Sir Michael, actress mother Rachel Kempson, late brother Corin and late sister Lynn, the Redgraves are considered the royal performing family of the U.K., just as the Barrymores were the royal performing family of the U.S. Her children with the late theater and film director Tony Richardson are Joely and the late Natasha. Her son with actor Franco Nero is Carlo Gabriel.
Miss Redgrave remains the only British actress ever to win the Oscar, Tony, Olivier, Evening Standard, Emmy, Drama Desk, Cannes Film Festival, Golden Globe, and SAG awards.
In 2003, she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. She received the 2010 BAFTA Fellowship "in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film." Redgrave was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967. In 2003, she declined Dame honors from Tony Blair’s Labour government.
Highlights of her stage career include her star-making 1961 turn as Rosalind in the RSC’s As You Like it and stage appearances in the RSC’s Cymbeline, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Tempest, The Aspern Papers, Much Ado About Nothing; and, on Broadway in the 2003 revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Year of Magical Thinking, Ibsen’s The Lady of the Sea, Williams’ Orpheus Descending [which she originated on the West End], the 2010 revival of Driving Miss Daisy [which also transferred to the West End], and Off Broadway’s Vita and Virginia, Antony and Cleopatra, and , most recently, The Revisionist.
Miss Redgrave has appeared in film roles as varied as Second Serve, The Bostonians, Atonement, Howard’s End, Isadora, The Devils, Blowup, Camelot, Wilde, Mrs. Dalloway, The Whistelblower, Coriolanus, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Jane Fonda, her Julia co-star, has written "Watching Vanessa work is like seeing through layers of glass, each layer painted in mythic watercolor images, layer after layer, until it becomes dark – but even then you know you haven’t come to the bottom of it."