Joyce Redman, Academy Award nominated for both Tom Jones and Othello, died in Kent, England, earlier today. The Newcastle-born Redman, who was either 93 or 96, had been suffering from pneumonia. Film lovers will remember her as Tom Jones’ Mrs. Waters, stealing the movie while “sexting” – as in, sex while eating (with) – Albert Finney.
Mostly a stage and television performer, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art-trained Redman appeared in only a handful of movies. Yet, her brief film career was notable because of her two Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominations.
In fact, Redman brought “Oscar luck” to her movies and fellow players: Best Picture Oscar winner Tom Jones (1963) earned five nominations in the acting categories (Joyce Redman, Albert Finney, Diane Cilento, Dame Edith Evans, Hugh Griffith), while the filmed version of Britain’s National Theatre presentation of Othello (1965) earned four (Joyce Redman as Emilia, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Frank Finlay).
Regarding the nominations for the Othello actors, the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther wrote the following:
The amazing thing is that the Academy has completely overlooked the fact that they are acting in a film which simply cannot be classified and analyzed as an achievement in genuine cinema. It is almost as though nominations for best acting were given to people in documentary films.
As per the IMDb, prior to her Oscar nominations Redman had been seen only briefly on screen: a bit as a “townswoman” in John Harlow’s Ghost Story (1941) and a small role in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s war drama One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942).
Following her two Oscar nods, Redman landed a meatier role as Deborah Kerr’s fellow contraception pill-popper in the Fielder Cook / Ronald Neame (very) mildly risque comedy Prudence and the Pill (1968). That was her last film appearance.
Now, the IMDb also lists a key Joyce Redman movie role in Brian Mills’ A Different Kind of Love (1985), as a mother who must come to terms with the fact that her divorced son (Nigel Havers) isn’t going to find himself a new wife because he already has another man (Rupert Frazer) in his life. However, this seems to be a video release of a 60-minute 1982 episode from the television series All for Love. (Note: On the IMDb listing for A Different Kind of Love, Rupert Frazer is credited for the role of the divorced son.)
Among Joyce Redman’s notable television appearances are those in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1955); Vanity Fair (1956-57), playing Becky Sharp; and a recurring role in Clayhanger (1976), starring Peter McEnery in the title role and Nicholas and Alexandra actress Janet Suzman.
Redman’s last appearance in front of the camera was in John Erman’s TV movie Victoria & Albert (2001), as the Old Queen Victoria. Victoria Hamilton played the young Victoria; Jonathan Firth was Prince Albert; and Redman’s son, Crispin Redman, had a supporting role.
Note: the IMDb lists County Mayo, Ireland, as Joyce Redman’s place of birth (on Dec. 9, 1918). As per the BBC obit, Redman was born in Newcastle, but was raised in County Mayo. Some sources have 1915 as Redman’s year of birth.
Bosley Crowther Othello quote via Damien Bona and Mason Wiley’s Inside Oscar.