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Also Known As: Joanna Lamond Lumley Died:
Born: May 1, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, IN Profession: actor, producer, model, author, columnist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A comedic powerhouse, Joanna Lumley went from modeling to small roles in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) and "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (1973) before recurring on "Coronation Street" (ITV, 1960) and multiple theatrical productions, usually farces or light comedies like "Blithe Spirit" and "Private Lives." She became a cult star when she followed in the high-kicking footsteps of Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg to become the female lead of "The New Avengers" (ITV, 1976-77) as the martial arts and weapons expert Purdey, which helped her land her own sci-fi series, "Sapphire & Steel" (ITV, 1979-1982). After small film roles including "Curse of the Pink Panther" (1983) and "Shirley Valentine" (1989), she became a worldwide star as the hard-living fashion editor Patsy Stone opposite Jennifer Saunders's neurotic Edina Monsoon on "Absolutely Fabulous" (BBC One, 1992-96; 2001-04; 2011- ). A fearlessly grotesque and endlessly hilarious character in Lumley's hands, Patsy became the show's most powerful comic weapon, and "Fabulous" a national smash and global cult classic, earning her a British Comedy Award and two BAFTAs. Her profile raised accordingly, Lumley booked international roles in "James and...

A comedic powerhouse, Joanna Lumley went from modeling to small roles in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) and "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (1973) before recurring on "Coronation Street" (ITV, 1960) and multiple theatrical productions, usually farces or light comedies like "Blithe Spirit" and "Private Lives." She became a cult star when she followed in the high-kicking footsteps of Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg to become the female lead of "The New Avengers" (ITV, 1976-77) as the martial arts and weapons expert Purdey, which helped her land her own sci-fi series, "Sapphire & Steel" (ITV, 1979-1982). After small film roles including "Curse of the Pink Panther" (1983) and "Shirley Valentine" (1989), she became a worldwide star as the hard-living fashion editor Patsy Stone opposite Jennifer Saunders's neurotic Edina Monsoon on "Absolutely Fabulous" (BBC One, 1992-96; 2001-04; 2011- ). A fearlessly grotesque and endlessly hilarious character in Lumley's hands, Patsy became the show's most powerful comic weapon, and "Fabulous" a national smash and global cult classic, earning her a British Comedy Award and two BAFTAs. Her profile raised accordingly, Lumley booked international roles in "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), "The Cat's Meow" (2001), "EuroTrip" (2004), "Ella Enchanted" (2004) and Corpse Bride" (2005). Although she was much loved in the U.K. for her lengthy body of work and activist politics, Lumley was best known around the world for her iconic "fabulous" work that kept fans in stitches for years.

Born May 1, 1946 in Kashmir and Jammu, then part of British India, Joanna Lamond Lumley grew up in Malaysia and then England, where she achieved fame as a model after being rejected by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She made an inauspicious film debut in 1969 with ornamental roles in "Some Girls Do" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Larger roles followed but they tended to showcase her attributes more than her talent, such as the final installment of the Hammer Dracula series, "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (1973). She recurred on "Coronation Street" (ITV, 1960) and "General Hospital" (ITV, 1972-79) and made her stage debut in the farce "Not Now Darling." A gifted and fearless comic actress, she scored again with the comedies "Don't Just Lie There, Say Something," "The End of Me Old Cigar," "Hedda Gabler," "Blithe Spirit" and the national tour of "Private Lives."

Lumley at last achieved mainstream stardom when she was tapped to become the latest in a string of iconic women super-agents - a list that included Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson - with "The New Avengers" (ITV, 1976-77). Partnered to John Steed (Patrick Macnee) in these continuing adventures, Lumley charmed as the all-powerful Purdey, a former ballerina-turned-martial arts and weapons expert. Although reaction to the series itself was lukewarm compared to the original's reception, Lumley proved the show's best element, earning a modicum of pop cultural immortality as one of the heroines of the "Avengers" universe, taking home a special BAFTA Award with Blackman, Rigg and Thorson. Lumley's cult popularity landed her the starring role in her own sci-fi adventure series, "Sapphire & Steel" (ITV, 1979-1982). Playing a mysterious interdimensional agent who is not quite human, Lumley enjoyed a subsequent career and profile boost, endearing herself greatly to critics and audiences for how well she acquitted herself in the cheesy but fun series.

International audiences had a glimpse of Lumley in two small roles in Blake Edwards' "Trail of the Pink Panther" (1982) and "Curse of the Pink Panther" (1983), and she achieved a breakthrough with a supporting role as a schoolmate of the titular "Shirley Valentine" (1989), which became a moderate worldwide success. She became a global star, however, with her outrageous, go-for-broke performance as the drug-addicted, hard-drinking, man-eating fashion editor Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau "Patsy" Stone, best friend to the equally unhinged publicist Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) on the smash sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous" (BBC One, 1992-96; 2001-04; 2011- ). The series became an instant obsession in Britain, powered by the chemistry between Saunders and Lumley, with the latter providing many of the show's most viciously brilliant punchlines. Showing an utter lack of vanity and obviously relishing playing the cartoonishly grotesque Patsy, Lumley was the show's stand-out.

Showered with awards for her daring work on "Ab-Fab," Lumley won a Best Comedy Actress British Comedy Award and two BAFTAs, as well as watched "Fabulous" achieve cult success in the United States as well as around the world. As Patsy, Lumley's iconic beehive, cigarette and disheveled glamour became instantly recognizable, and the LGBT community in particular embraced the character as a camp goddess. Lumley's career took off accordingly, with roles as Mrs. Peacock in a TV game show adaptation of "Cluedo" (ITV, 1990-93), Mrs. Mary Smiling in "Cold Comfort Farm" (BBC, 1995) and Kate Swift on "Class Act" (ITV, 1994-95). She voiced the Patsy-esque Aunt Spiker in the animated adaptation of Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" (1996) and reprised Miss Stone alongside Saunders's Edina on a memorably strange episode of "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997). (At the time, Roseanne had bought the rights for an American adaptation of the series, which did not pan out).

Lumley next played Morgan Le Fey in "Prince Valiant" (1997) and Mrs. Lovett in "The Tale of Sweeney Todd" (Showtime, 1997) and continued to maintain a steady presence in British film and television, including a starring turn as a vain soap actress on "Dr Willoughby" (ITV, 1999). International audiences saw her again in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Cat's Meow" (2001), "EuroTrip" (2004) and "Ella Enchanted" (2004) and heard her distinctive cut-glass voice in "Corpse Bride" (2005) as well as in the U.K. version of AOL's famous "You've got mail" greeting for users. She starred on three additional series, "Sensitive Skin" (BBC Two, 2005), "Clatterford" (BBC, 2006-09) and "Mistresses" (BBC One, 2008-2010) but also made a name for herself with a series of reality and documentary-style appearances that reflected her intellectual curiosity, including "Girl Friday" (BBC, 1994), "Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights" (BBC, 2008) and "Joanna Lumley's Nile" (ITV, 2011). She also achieved dazzling success as an activist and advocate for Gurkhas veterans, natives of Nepal and Tibet who served in the British Army, and became the nation's leading advocate for allowing them to settle in Britain. Honored with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Lumley saw her most famous role continue to live on. A new American version of "Absolutely Fabulous" was commissioned, starring Kristen Johnston as Patsy, but it never made it to series. Happily, however, the original cast began production on new episodes in 2011. A finale set to coincide with the 2012 London Summer Olympics served as the definitive end of both the series and its characters, according to French and Saunders. Lumley moved on with a supporting role in the romantic drama "Late Bloomers" (2011), starring William Hurt and Isabella Rosselini, She next appeared on the big screen in Martin Scorsese's 1990s period piece "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013).

By Jonathan Riggs

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Late Bloomers (2012)
4.
 Animals United (2010)
5.
 Boogie Woogie (2009)
6.
7.
 Lust (2006)
9.
 Ella Enchanted (2004) Dame Olga
10.
 Eurotrip (2004)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Kashmir
:
At age eight, settled with family in Tunbridge Wells, England
:
Left school at age 17 to pursue career as a fashion model
:
Was a successful model in Great Britain
1969:
Made feature film debut in a small role in "Some Girls Do"
1969:
Appeared as a Bond girl in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
1971:
First major role in films, "The Games That Lovers Play"
1973:
Appeared in final Hammer Studios Dracula film, "The Satanic Rites of Dracula/Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride" (released in the USA in 1978)
1973:
Played Elaine Perkins in the long-running British prime-time soap opera, "Coronation Street"
1976:
Landed first major role as Purdey in "The New Avengers," a revival of the secret agent series "The Avengers" (aired in the USA in 1978)
1979:
Starred opposite David McCallum in the sci-fi adventure series, "Sapphire & Steel"
1982:
Had featured role in "Trail of the Pink Panther"
1983:
Co-starred in "Curse of the Pink Panther"
:
Wrote a column published in the London <i>Times</i> in the 1980s
1989:
Supported Pauline Collins in the film version of "Shirley Valentine"
1992:
Cast as Patsy Stone in the popular English comedy series, "Absolutely Fabulous" (aired in the USA on Comedy Central in 1994-95)
1992:
Appeared in the British series, "Lovejoy," as widow Victoria Cavero
1995:
Had pivotal role in "Cold Comfort Farm"
1996:
Reprised Patsy in the TV-movie, "Absoultely Fabulous: The Last Shout"
1996:
Provided a character voice in "James and the Giant Peach"
1998:
Portrayed Mrs. Lovett in the Showtime movie, "The Tale of Sweeney Todd"
1999:
Provided the voice for Sims the chicken in the animated series, "The Foxbusters"
1999:
Had rare unsuccessful sitcom lead in "Dr. Willoughby"
2000:
Re-teamed with Jennifer Saunders for the unsuccessful series, "Mirrorball"
2001:
Made TV producing debut with "The Cazelets"
2001:
Portrayed Eleanor Glyn in "The Cat's Meow" (released theatrically in the USA in 2002)
2001:
Reprised role of Patsy Stone in new series of "Absolutely Fabulous"; co-written by and co-starring Jennifer Saunders
2002:
Garnered acclaim as star of "Up in Town," six ten-minute dramas aired on BBC2
2004:
Co-starred in the film, "Ella Enchanted"
2005:
Voiced Maudeline Everglot in Tim Burton's animated feature, "Corpse Bride"
2005:
Published her autobiography, <i>No Room for Secrets</i>
2006:
Starred as the elderly Delilah Stagg in the sitcom, "Jam & Jerusalem" with Jennifer Saunders
2007:
Joined the second series of "Sensitive Skin," playing the main character Davina Jackson
2010:
Played a strong-willed Princess in her Broadway debut, David Hirson's "La Bete"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St Mary's Convent: Hastings , East Sussex -
Lucie Clayton Modelling Agency and Training School: London , England -

Notes

Lumley's father was a gurkha, a soldier from Nepal serving in the English or Indian army.

"You know, in America, people might think that age is the thing. In Britain it might be another reason that they drop you--that you're too popular or too well known from one show. In Britain we tend to look down on success, instead of applauding it as you do over here. You say, 'hey, so-and-so's great in that, let's build them up and make them better.' In Britain, they tend to say, 'hey, that was really good, so let's knock them down.'" --Joanna Lumley to Claudia Pearce, February 13, 1996.

"The gay community is usually the first to jump onto what's smart and new; they're usually the first to be ahead of the avant-garde. Because ['Absolutely Fabulous'] is satirical and quite sort of catty and biting, it amuses them enormously. And the characters are quite easy to imitate." --Lumley in The Advocate, April 16, 1996.

" ... being tall affects the way other people look at you. They think: aloof, snooty, commanding - all things that aren't necessarily there at all. That is what 'tall woman' means." --Lumley (who stands at 5'8") quoted in The Daily Telegraph, February 19, 2002.

"Nervous breakdown? Didn't really know what it was at the time. With hindsight I think it was a bad case of stage fright. Terribly common.

" ... Came from boredom. The repetition. You go mad. I'd been in that play for ten months, eight shows a week. I've been in many plays since and it has been fine but I've made sure I've never done long runs again. I like new things. Which is why I like filming. I only started in acting because I was interested in film. I like the lie. The fibs the camera tells." --Joanna Lumley on a "nervous breakdown" suffered c. 1970 around the time her first marriage ended, quoted in The Daily Telegraph, February 19, 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Michael Claydon. Photographer. Involved in the mid to late 1960s; father of Lumley's son James.
husband:
Jeremy Lloyd. Comedy writer. Married in 1970 after a five-day courtship; divorced after four months.
companion:
Rod Stewart. Singer. Had two-month relationship c. 1970.
husband:
Stephen Barlow. Conductor, composer, musician. Born c. 1954; married in 1986.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Aelene Lumley. Born c. 1944.
son:
James Lloyd. Born in 1967; attended Harrow; father, Michael Claydon.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Stare Back and Smile"
"Forces Sweetheart"

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