Maggie Smith Then and Now

By / July 1, 2024

Maggie Smith Then

Maggie Smith, born on December 28, 1934, in Ilford, Essex, England, grew up in a family with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Her mother, who worked as a secretary, was of Scottish descent, while her father, an Anglican, was a pathologist at the University of Oxford. 

Smith was the youngest in her family, with older twin brothers, and spent her childhood in Oxford, an environment rich in academic and cultural influence.

Smith’s early education took place at Oxford High School, where she attended until the age of 16. 

Her passion for acting led her to leave formal schooling early and pursue training at the Oxford Playhouse. 

maggie smith young
via maggie smith instagram

This decision marked the beginning of her illustrious career in the performing arts. 

The training she received at the Oxford Playhouse provided a solid foundation for her acting skills, helping her to develop the versatility and depth that would later become hallmarks of her performances.

Smith’s upbringing in Oxford, surrounded by the intellectual and cultural atmosphere of the university town, undoubtedly influenced her artistic sensibilities.

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The combination of her diverse family background and the rich educational environment she was exposed to played a crucial role in shaping her as an actress. 

From these early beginnings, Maggie Smith went on to become one of the most respected and accomplished actors in the world, known for her remarkable talent and dedication to her craft.

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Maggie Smith Acting Career

Maggie Smith’s journey into acting began at the Oxford Playhouse School, where she honed her craft and began appearing in revues in Oxford in 1952 and later in London in 1955. 

Her talents were quickly recognized, and she achieved significant recognition on Broadway with the revue New Faces of 1956.

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Following this, she starred as the lead comedian in the London revue Share My Lettuce (1957–58). Smith’s career continued to ascend as she became a regular performer at the Old Vic Theater in London. 

Her standout performances in Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal (1961), Peter Shaffer’s linked comedies The Private Ear and The Public Eye (1962), and Jean Kerr’s Mary, Mary (1963) solidified her reputation as a formidable actress.

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maggie smith acting career
via maggie smith instagram

In 1963, Smith joined Britain’s National Theatre Company, marking a pivotal moment in her career. 

The following year, she played Desdemona opposite Laurence Olivier’s Othello, a role she reprised in Olivier’s film adaptation of Othello in 1965.

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With the National Theatre, she took on various roles, including Silvia in George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer (1963). 

Smith’s screen debut came in 1958 with Nowhere to Go, but it was her performance in the title role of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) that brought her international fame and an Academy Award for Best Actress.

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Smith’s stage career continued to flourish with the National Theatre, where she starred in William Wycherley’s The Country-Wife (1969), Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem (1970), and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (1970). 

In the early 1970s, she transitioned to the Stratford (Ontario) Festival and appeared in productions in London and New York, including Noël Coward’s Private Lives (1972, 1975) and Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day (1979).

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Her film career saw significant success with her role in California Suite (1978), earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Throughout the 1980s and 2000s, Smith received further acclaim and Oscar nominations for her performances in A Room with a View (1985) and Gosford Park (2001). 

Her diverse roles included the title character in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987), the comedy Sister Act (1992), and The Secret Garden (1993).

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She continued to captivate audiences with her performances in Ladies in Lavender (2004) alongside Judi Dench, Becoming Jane (2007), and the ensemble comedies The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and its sequel (2015).

Smith also played Professor Minerva McGonagall in the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, further solidifying her popularity among younger audiences.

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She lent her voice to the animated films Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) and Sherlock Gnomes (2018). 

Her ability to deliver sharp, memorable dialogue was highlighted in My Old Lady (2014), where she played a tenant in a Parisian apartment.

On stage, Smith continued to shine with notable performances in the West End productions of William Congreve’s The Way of the World (1984), Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage (1987), and Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (1994).

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Her performance in the Broadway production of Lettice and Lovage earned her a Tony Award in 1990. In 1999, she starred as the title character in Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, a role she reprised in the 2015 film adaptation.

Smith also made her mark on television, starring in TV movies such as David Copperfield (1999) and My House in Umbria (2003), the latter earning her an Emmy Award.

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Her role as Violet, dowager countess of Grantham, in the British series Downton Abbey (2010–15) won her three Emmys. She reprised this role in two feature-length films in 2019 and 2022.

For her contributions to the performing arts, Smith was honored as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1990 and named a Companion of Honour (CH) in 2014, recognizing her remarkable career and influence in British theatre and cinema.

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Maggie Smith Movies

maggie smith movies list
via maggie smith instagram
  • Nowhere to Go (1958)
  • Go to Blazes (1962)
  • The V.I.P.s (1963)
  • Young Cassidy (1965)
  • Othello (1965)
  • The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
  • The Honey Pot (1967)
  • Hot Millions (1968)
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
  • Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
  • Travels with My Aunt (1972)
  • Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973)
  • Death on the Nile (1978)
  • California Suite (1978)
  • Murder by Death (1976)
  • Quartet (1981)
  • Clash of the Titans (1981)
  • Evil Under the Sun (1982)
  • Better Late Than Never (1983)
  • The Missionary (1982)
  • A Private Function (1984)
  • A Room with a View (1985)
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987)
  • Hook (1991)
  • Sister Act (1992)
  • The Secret Garden (1993)
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
  • Richard III (1995)
  • The First Wives Club (1996)
  • Washington Square (1997)
  • Tea with Mussolini (1999)
  • The Last September (1999)
  • Gosford Park (2001)
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  • Keeping Mum (2005)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • Becoming Jane (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)
  • Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
  • Quartet (2012)
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
  • The Lady in the Van (2015)
  • Sherlock Gnomes (2018)
  • Downton Abbey (2019)
  • A Boy Called Christmas (2021)
  • Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)
  • The Miracle Club (2023)

Maggie Smith’s Personal Life

Maggie Smith’s personal life has seen both joy and hardship, intertwined with her illustrious career. 

In June 1967, she married actor Robert Stephens, and the couple had two sons together, Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin, both of whom followed in their parents’ footsteps to become actors.

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Despite their shared profession and family life, the couple divorced in 1975.

Shortly after her divorce, Smith married playwright Beverley Cross in June 1975. 

Their marriage was a strong and supportive partnership that lasted until Cross’s death in 1998.

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This relationship provided Smith with stability and support during a significant part of her career.

In 1988, Smith was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. 

Despite this health challenge, she continued to work and deliver remarkable performances on stage and screen.

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Her resilience was further tested in 2007 when it was revealed that she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. 

Smith faced this battle with the same strength and determination that characterized her career, and by 2009, it was announced that she had made a full recovery.

Throughout these personal trials, Smith’s dedication to her craft never wavered.

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Her ability to balance her professional achievements with her personal struggles is a testament to her resilience and strength. 

The support of her family, particularly her sons, has been a significant source of strength for her. 

Smith’s journey through these challenges has added depth to her roles and endeared her even more to her audience, who admire not just her talent, but also her fortitude and grace in the face of adversity.

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Maggie Smith Now

maggie smith age
via maggie smith instagram

Maggie Smith, at 89 years old, stands as a stalwart figure in the realm of British acting celebrated for her remarkable versatility and enduring talent. 

Throughout her career spanning over seven decades, Smith has captivated audiences with her ability to seamlessly transition between comedic and dramatic roles, earning her a reputation as one of Britain’s most cherished actresses.

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Her performances are marked not only by her impeccable timing and wit in comedic roles but also by her profound depth and emotional resonance in dramatic portrayals.

In 2023, Maggie Smith continued to showcase her enduring prowess with her role in the movie The Miracle Club.

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This recent addition to her extensive filmography underscores her ongoing commitment to her craft and her ability to deliver compelling performances across different genres. 

Smith’s career has been characterized by a diverse range of roles that have highlighted her exceptional acting range and earned her numerous accolades and awards.

Beyond her achievements on screen, Maggie Smith has also made significant contributions to stage and television, further solidifying her status as a versatile performer.

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Her ability to command the stage with a commanding presence and to engage viewers through the intimacy of television has made her a beloved figure across generations of audiences.

Smith’s success in the entertainment industry is reflected not only in her acclaim but also in her financial success, with a net worth estimated at $20 million.

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This financial achievement underscores her long-standing impact and enduring popularity in the world of entertainment. 

As Maggie Smith continues to inspire and delight audiences with her performances, her legacy as a consummate actress and cultural icon remains firmly secured in the annals of British and global cinema.

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