Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Dame Judith Anderson



Judith Anderson
Dame Judith Anderson in the role of T'lar in Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock.

Another of South Australia’s fine but forgotten actors (see earlier blog about Otto Peter Heggie.)

 Dame Judith 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 later pursued her acting dreams and moved to Hollywood,  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, so 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 dreamed about with the play “The Cobra”, which proved to be extremely popular.

The 1930’s proved to be very successful decade for Anderson.  Returning to the USA after a successful theatre tour in Australia that had started in 1927, Anderson now found herself much sought after. With work offers to star  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 not 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: The Search for Spock" 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 Award for playing the role “Medea” opposite John Gielgud

Anderson also appeared in the television soap “Santa Barbara”.

Dame Judith Anderson was awarded in 1986 with a Living Legacy Award by the Women’s International Centre, and made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 199.


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 on King William Road, Adelaide.