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Overview for Judy Parfitt
Judy Parfitt

Judy Parfitt


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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 7, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: Cast ... actor


A polished British stage actress who has proven adept in films and television playing characters of aristocratic background, Judy Parfitt delivered one of her best film performances as the imperious employer of Kathy Bates in "Delores Claiborne" (1995). Born in Yorkshire and trained at RADA, the actress began her career on stage in repertory theater before eventually finding success in the West End. Parfitt was already close to 30 when she debuted in films in a small role in "Hide and Seek" (1964). She first caught international audiences' attention playing Gertrude to Nicol Williamson's "Hamlet" (1969), recreating her stage performance. (As has often been the case, she was only three years older than the actor playing her son.) Parfitt continued to lend her regal bearing and patrician looks to such roles as "The Duchess of Malfi" and Mary Queen of Scots in "Vivat! Vivat Regina!" (both 1971) as well as Ranevskaya in "The Cherry Orchard" (1978).

Film and TV directors often cast the actress in similar type role. Parfitt offered a memorable turn as Geraldine James' alcoholic mother in the miniseries "The Jewel in the Crown" (PBS, 1984) and Hugh Grant's upper class mother in "Maurice" (1987). Crossing the pond, she was deliciously vile as the wicked stepmother in the otherwise middling ABC sitcom "The Charmings" (1987-88), which transplanted the fairy tale characters in contemporary Southern California. A number of her other small screen performances, though, have been in high-toned British imports that aired on PBS (i.e., "The Blackheath Poisonings" 1993). More recently, Parfitt lent her unique talents to the role of the prince's mother in "Ever After" (1998), a retelling of the "Cinderella" story, and appeared as an older woman targeted by a psychopathic Matthew Broderick in the Broadway revival of Emlyn Williams' "Night Must Fall" (1999).

After an appearance on an episode of "ER" (NBC, 1994- ), Parfitt had a supporting role in the A&E murder mystery, "Death's Shadow" (2000). Then a small role as an ambassador in "Falling Through" (2000), an action thriller about the American embassy in Paris on high alert from a wave of counterfeit passports, was followed by a meatier part in "Girl With a Pearl Earring" (2003), in which she played famed painter Johannes Vermeer's domineering mother-in-law whose 16-year-old housemaid (Scarlett Johansson) becomes the subject of the artist's famed painting as well as his domestic troubles. In "The Long Firm" (BBC, 2004), a four-part miniseries about a notorious homosexual East End gangster, Parfitt had a small part as the disillusioned wife of a closeted gay man (Derek Jacobi) who gets into shady business dealings with London's less-desirable elements.

Parfitt then appeared in "The Aryan Couple" (2005) as the elderly wife of a wealthy Jewish man forced to sell all he owns to the Nazis in exchange for their freedom. She next had a small supporting role in "Asylum" (2005) as the sharp-tongued mother of an ambitious forensic psychologist (Hugh Bonneville) hired on as deputy superintendent at a mental institution where he moves his wife (Natasha Richardson) and son (Gus Lewis). At the asylum, his wife begins an affair with an inmate (Marton Csokas), which sparks the interest of the resident sexual pathologist (Ian McKellen).

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