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10 February 1898 Dame Judith Anderson

 10 February 1898   Dame Judith Anderson

Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on the 10 February 1898 in Adelaide. After seeing Nellie Melba perform the young Frances determined on a stage career. She began in amateur acting in Sydney, and made her professional debut in 1915.

In 1918 she was given a letter of introduction to Cecil B. DeMille and with her mother went to Hollywood. The letter was little help and, down to their last few dollars, they decided to try their luck in New York. There Judith started work in a travelling stock company while her mother sewed for actresses.

In 1924 she was given her first important role and progressed steadily from then on. In 1937 she played Lady Macbeth opposite Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic, London, and in 1947 came her greatest role, Medea, which was specially created for her. Her best known film roles are as Mrs Danvers in Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Big Mamma in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Over the years she made several tours of Australia and, although she lived in America, always regarded herself as Australian. She was made a Dame in 1955. She came to Adelaide for the 1966 Festival of Arts where she performed excerpts from Medea and Macbeth. Although she suffered from anaemia she lived into her 90s.

Barbara Martyn, 'Judith Anderson', 100 Famous Australian Lives,  Paul Hamlyn, Sydney, 1969, pp. 437-442.

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