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Dame Joan Plowright retires from acting

Award winning actress Dame Joan Plowright has announced that she has retired from acting.

Sad to hear that Joan Plowright, who is a much-loved actress by anyone’s standard but also happens to be theatrical royalty as the widow of Lord Olivier, has had to retire from acting (Telegraph, 13 May 2014).

Joan Plowright (right) and Liza Tarbuck in Absolutely! (Perhaps) in London in 2003
Joan Plowright (right) and Liza Tarbuck in Absolutely! (Perhaps) in London in 2003

The 84 year old is now completely blind from a macular degeneration, which means that over the last decade she has slowly lost her eye sight.

Her agents at Independent Talent Group confirmed the news this week.

Her extraordinary stage career included performing with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in 1956 cast as Margery Pinchwife in The Country Wife, and co-starring with her future husband Laurence Olivier in 1957 in John Osborne’s The Entertainer. She won a Tony Award in 1961 for A Taste of Honey on Broadway.

But it’s her film and TV work that has introduced her to each new generation, from The Entertainer in 1960, to a Golden Globe for Enchanted April in 1992, Tea With Mussolini with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Cher in 1999, and another Golden Globe for her performance in HBO film Stalin in 1992.

The news comes following Dame Judi Dench’s revelation earlier this year that she also has failing eyesight due to age-related macular degeneration, and is no longer able to read scripts. Dame Judi will celebrate her 80th birthday on 9 December 2014.


2 thoughts on “Dame Joan Plowright retires from acting”

  1. I am very sorry to hear that Joan Plowright has retired from acting because of eye sight problems. She is such a wonderful actress. I first saw her at the Old Vic in Shaw’s St Joan the 1960’s she gave a powerful performance so full of pathos and her stage presence was amazing. I am also a great fan of Laurence Olivier her late husband he introduced me to Shakespeare through his film of Richard 111 also in the 1960’s. Both where members of the early National theatre where Olivier was the first director. They appeared together also at the Chichester festival theatre which Olivier run before he went to the National theatre also in the 1960’s. When ever I saw Joan Plowright give any interviews about her career and life it was always o interesting to listen to her her utterances seemed so full of charm and fun. I have read her book and that’s not all which I liked very much it was noth informative and enlightening. The acting profession has I think lost one of it’s greatest actresses her diversity as an actress was there for all to see in my opinion. I hope she has a good retirement and her health improves hopefully.

    1. The history of the live theater is deliberately kept in the moment – if ya wasn’t there, ya missed it seems to be the unspoken legacy. How many would have been enthralled by a Laurette Taylor or Kim Stanley live stage performance at their peak if preserved on film, or even some reasonable photographs of the same? Yeah, I know, it’s different when you’re there in the audience, hearing and seeing the actors in a more immediate fashion, but when one grows up where access to first-class productions is limited, it seems like an institutional bias towards an elite or the lucky.

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