Another of South Australia’s fine but forgotten actors (see earlier blog about Otto Peter Heggie.)
Anderson was born in Rose Park, South Australia in 1897 as Francis Margaret Anderson. She used the stage name Francee Anderson during her stage debut in Sydney in 1915.
Anderson pursued her acting dreams and moved to Los Angeles USA, where, via a letter of introduction she was introduced to Cecil B De Mille. Despite her talents and contacts the west coast was not for her, and she moved to New York City to work at the Fourteenth Street Theatre.
Anderson made her Broadway debut in 1922. In 1924, Anderson changed her stage name, this time to “Judith Anderson” and with the new name came the success she had dreamt about with the play “The Cobra”, which proved to be extremely popular.
The 1930’s proved to be very successful for Anderson, just of a successful tour in Australia that started in 1927, Anderson now found herself much sought after and working opposite screen and stage legends such as Humphrey Bogart, John Geilgud and Laurence Olivier.
Anderson starred in such notable plays as Hamlet, MacBeth, Mourning becomes Electra and The Mask and the Face.
It was long before Anderson made her television debut, starring in two small screen adaptions of Macbeth, which won her two Emmy awards, the first female to ever win two awards for the same role in different productions.
Soon the silver screen beckoned with Anderson debuting in 1933’s Blood Money. This led to supporting roles in Alfred Hitchcocks “Rebecca”, the movies “Laura” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “A Man called Horse” and in sci-fi hit Star Trek III in 1982.
In 1960 Anderson was made “Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; the first Australian-born actress to be given the title of Dame
Anderson was also nominated for a Grammy for her spoken word rendition of Emily Bronte classic “Wuthering Heights” and won a Tony for playing the role “Medea” opposite John Gielgud
Anderson also appeared in the television soap “Santa Barbara”.
Judith Andersons was awarded in 1986 with a Living Legacy Award by the Women’s International Centre in 1986 and made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1991
Judith Anderson passed away in 1992 in Santa Barbara USA. An Off-Broadway theatre is named in her honour in New York
If you are interested in learning more about Judith Anderson, the Performing Arts Collection of South Australia, held at the Adelaide Festival Centre, features costumes worn by Judith, Photos and memorabilia.
Judith Andersons Ashes and a memorial plaque are also housed inside one of the walls of the Festival Theatre