Margaret Rutherford


Actor
Margaret Rutherford

About

Also Known As
Margaret Taylor Rutherford, Dame Margaret Rutherford
Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
May 11, 1892
Died
May 22, 1972

Biography

Gifted, endearing character player, in films since the mid-1930s. A master scene-stealer, Rutherford personified the eccentric English spinster in a number of famous comedies, including David Lean's classic "Blithe Spirit" (1945), as the enthusiastic, bicycle-riding psychic, Madame Arcati. In "The Happiest Days of Your Life" (1950), she teamed beautifully with Alistair Sim for a rollicki...

Family & Companions

Stringer Davis
Husband
Actor, producer. Married in 1945; died fifteen months after Rutherford in the fall of 1973; frequently played small supporting roles in Rutherford's films, most notably as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian in the Miss Marple murder mysteries.

Biography

Gifted, endearing character player, in films since the mid-1930s. A master scene-stealer, Rutherford personified the eccentric English spinster in a number of famous comedies, including David Lean's classic "Blithe Spirit" (1945), as the enthusiastic, bicycle-riding psychic, Madame Arcati. In "The Happiest Days of Your Life" (1950), she teamed beautifully with Alistair Sim for a rollicking secondary school farce.

With her plump figure, small and piercing eyes, and bulldog expression, Rutherford could embody a spirit of prim, stiff-upper-lip efficiency or could play a classic, fidgety bungler with equal ease. She made a memorably nervous Miss Prism in a sterling film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's farce, "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952). Rutherford is perhaps best known as the indomitable title character in four "Miss Marple" mystery films of the 60s. Most of Rutherford's credits are British, but she won an Academy Award for her hilarious rendition of a daffy duchess down on her luck in the old-fashioned, all-star Hollywood anthology drama, "The V.I.P.s" (1963). This much-loved trouper was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the late 60s shortly before her death.

Life Events

1933

Made her West End stage debut in the play "Wild Justice" by James Dale

1936

Made her film debut as Miss Butterby in "Dusty Ermine"

1938

Career took notable upturn with her performance as the eccentric septuagenarian Bijou Furze in the stage comedy, "Spring Meeting"

1939

First played Miss Prism in "The Importance of Being Earnest" onstage, in a production by John Gielgud

1940

Played the atypically unsympathetic role of Mrs. Danvers in a stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel, "Rebecca"

1941

Portrayed Madame Arcati on the London stage in the original production of Noel Coward's comedy, "Blithe Spirit"

1945

Recreated her stage role in David Lean's film version of "Blithe Spirit"

1947

Toured North America with John Gielgud in "The Importance of Being Earnest", this time playing Lady Bracknell

1948

Played Miss Whitchurch in the stage farce, "The Happiest Days of Your Life"

1950

Recreated her role in "The Happiest Days of Your Life" in Frank Launder's film adaptation

1952

Committed her performance as Miss Prism to film in Anthony Asquith's adaptation of "The Importance of Being Earnest"

1957

Toured Australia in "The Happiest Days of Your Life" with husband Stringer Davis

1963

Won Best Supporting Actress Oscar playing a dotty dowager in "The VIPs"

1966

Suffered a fall while filming in Italy; broke her hip and never fully recovered

Photo Collections

Chimes at Midnight - Movie Poster
Chimes at Midnight - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Murder Most Foul (1964) - The Blackmailer! Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford as Agatha Christie’s sleuth) with her associate Mr. Stringer (Stringer Davis, who was Mr. Rutherford) deducing the meaning of a cut-up newspaper found at a murder scene, ringing a landlady,(Megs Jenkins), and observed by the annoyed Inspector Craddock (Charles Tingwell) Murder Most Foul, 1964.
Murder Most Foul (1964) - The Lodger's Dilemma Husband of the star, Stringer Davis, as “Mr. Stringer,” appears with Ross Parker and Lucy Griffiths from the local theater company, as Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) arrives, having just caused her murder jury to be hung, with Sydney Arnold as the vicar, early in the third of four MGM-British features based on the Agatha Christie, Murder Most Foul, 1964.
Murder Most Foul (1964) - Are You Jane Marble? Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) has her own reasons for infiltrating a local theater company, but must audition for the fussy director Cosgood (second-billed Ron Moody, in his first scene), choosing a Robert Service poem that was a favorite of Rutherford’s, in the last of her MGM-British features as Agatha Christie’s sleuth, Murder Most Foul, 1964.
Murder She Said (1961) - A Bad Dream, Indeed! Opening scene, Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) observes a murder in the next train, then tells a dubious ticket clerk (Peter Butterworth) in Murder She Said, 1961, from Agatha Christie's 4:50 From Paddington.
Murder She Said (1961) - We Can't All Be Young And Handsome Anxious Emma (Muriel Pavlow) introduces Jane Marple (Margaret Rutherford), infiltrating the household as a maid, to her blustery father (James Robertson-Justice), in Murder She Said, 1961, from an Agatha Christie novel.
Chimes At Midnight (1965) - I've Picked His Pocket Writer-director Orson Welles (as Falstaff, in his film based on Shakespeare’s recurring character) introduces Keith Baxter as Prince Hal and Paddy Bedford as cohort Bardolph, Margaret Rutherford the befuddled Hostess Quickly, drawing from Henry IV, Part 1, in Chimes At Midnight, 1965.
Murder Ahoy -- (1964) - To Put Backbone Into Young Jellyfish In her village where Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford, in an original, non-Agathae Christie story), who was outfitted with a naval suit during the credits, joins a meeting chaired by the bishop (Miles Malleson) but derailed by Ffolly-Hardwicke (Henry Longhurst), from the third in the MGM series, Murder Ahoy, 1964.
Murder Ahoy -- (1964) - He Was Done Away With Convinced that a fellow member of the board of a society that reforms young truants through naval training was murdered by poisoned snuff, Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) guides sidekick Mr. Stringer (Rutherford’s husband, Stringer Davis) through experiments, in Murder Ahoy, 1964.
Murder Ahoy -- (1964) - Neptune's Mother Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) aims to solve a murder by investigating on the ship operated by the youth-reform institute for which she’s a board member, meeting the captain (Lionel Jeffries) and staff (William Mervyn, Gerald Cross, Francis Matthews, Derek Nimmo, Norma Foster, Joan Benham), in Murder Ahoy, 1964.
V.I.P.s, The (1963) - Opening Credits There’s a hint of irony and some achievement in the credits for the MGM all-star drama, Anthony Asquith directing as we meet Liz and Dick (Taylor And Burton), Orson Welles, Louis Jourdan, Elsa Martinelli, Rod Taylor, Maggie Smith and Academy Award-winner Margaret Rutherford, in The V.I.P.s, 1963.
V.I.P.s, The (1963) - Room With No View Joining in the premise-setting, Richard Wattis as B.O.A.C. official Sanders, Orson Welles as movie director Buda, Elsa Martinelli his latest discovery, Martin Miller his money man, then Margaret Rutherford in her Academy Award-winning role as Duchess Brighton, in The V.I.P.s, 1963.
Murder At The Gallop (1963) - Murder Most Foul Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) drops in on mysterious Aunt Cora, but winds up settling for her assistant Miss Gilchrist (Flora Robson), in Murder At The Gallop, 1963, from an Agatha Christie novel.

Trailer

Family

William Benn
Father
Benn murdered his father Julius just prior to Rutherford's birth.
Florence Rutherford
Mother
Died c. 1895.
John Benn
Uncle
Politician.
Dawn Langley Simmons
Daughter
Author. Was born to Jack Copper, the chauffeur of Vita Sackville-West, and Marjorie Hall Ticehurst; born with an adrenal abnormality that caused female genitalia to resemble a man's, hence was raised as a boy; adopted by Rutherford in her 20s.

Companions

Stringer Davis
Husband
Actor, producer. Married in 1945; died fifteen months after Rutherford in the fall of 1973; frequently played small supporting roles in Rutherford's films, most notably as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian in the Miss Marple murder mysteries.

Bibliography