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Maggie Smith on the set of 'The Rehearsal'

5 of 12 portraits of Maggie Smith

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Maggie Smith on the set of 'The Rehearsal'

by Ida Kar
2 1/4 inch square film negative, 1961
Purchased, 1999
Photographs Collection
NPG x132981

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1567 portraits, Sitter in 137 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Kar photographed Smith on the set of Jean Anouilh's The Rehearsal.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 129 Read entry

    Smith was born in Ilford, east London, and studied acting at the Oxford Playhouse School. She appeared in revue in the 1950s before joining the Old Vic Theatre (1959-60). Her work in Jean Anouilh's The Rehearsal (1961) and in Peter Shaffer's comedies The Private Ear and The Public Eye (both 1962) solidified her reputation. She joined the National Theatre Company in 1963, most notably playing Desdemona in Othello opposite Laurence Olivier. Smith made her film debut in Nowhere to Go (1958), followed by important cameos in films such as The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Her starring role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) earned her an Oscar for best actress. A major star since then, Smith's performances in California Suite (1978), A Room with a View (1985), Gosford Park (2001) and the film adaptations of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series have confirmed her status as a leading British actress. She was made a Dame in 1990. Kar photographed Smith in the role of Lucile, on the set of The Rehearsal.

Placesback to top

Events of 1961back to top

Current affairs

Peter Benenson's article The Forgotten Prisoners is published internationally, inspiring the founding of the human rights organisation, Amnesty International.
The philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell is imprisoned for inciting civil disobedience during a sit down demonstration at the Ministry of Defence and Hyde Park.
The farthing coin - used in Britain for the last 7 centuries - ceases to be legal tender.

Art and science

Rudolf Nureyev defects from the USSR fearing that the KGB would arrest him for being gay and for fraternising with foreigners. After seeking asylum in Paris he set up home in London at the Royal Ballet and began his famous partnership with Margot Fonteyn.
The satirical magazine, Private Eye is first published.

International

The East German government erects the Berlin Wall, ceasing free movement between East and West Berlin. The barrier prevented citizens of Soviet controlled East Germany from crossing the border into West Germany to work, or to defect.
Yuri Gagarin, the soviet cosmonaut, becomes the first man in space orbiting the earth on the 12th April.

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