She’s won every honor from being appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, to being awarded a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. And now, Judi Dench is about to receive another title: birthday girl.
Happy Birthday, Judi Dench!
And that’s because she was born on December 9, 1934, in Heworth, York, England, which means that this national treasure is turning 86 years old today! Though she initially trained to be a set designer, Dench eventually decided to peruse an acting career, just like her brother, Jeff.
She honed her craft at the Central School of Speech and Drama – alongside other notables such as Vanessa Redgrave – then, upon graduating, she made her professional stage debut with the Old Vic Company’s production of Hamlet. Over the next four years, Dench would subsequently appear in stagings of Henry V (1958), and Romeo and Juliet (1960).
Further theatrical roles including Anya in The Cherry Orchard (1961), Isabella in Measure for Measure (1962), and Lady Macbeth in the Scottish Play followed. In 1964, Dench appeared in a three-episode adaptation of the novel Parade’s End and the Charles Crichton-directed drama The Third Secret. Those projects marked her TV and film debut respectively.
Next came roles in a Sherlock Holmes picture, A Study in Terror (1965), the thriller film Four in the Morning (1965), and a four-part serial titled Talking to a Stranger. For her work on Four in the Morning, Dench would receive a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Most Promising Newcomer. For her role in the latter, Dench would receive a BAFTA for Best Actress.
In 1968, Dench accepted an offer to play Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret. Though the role would later be immortalized by Liza Minnelli in the film adaptation, Dench earned critical and commercial acclaim all her own for her portrayal.
Dench made further contributions to the stage – including taking on the title role in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (1971) and appearing in The Comedy of Errors and a revival of Much Ado About Nothing.
Dench also returned to the small screen. First, she received rave reviews for her turn as a spinster throwing herself headlong into a love affair in the sitcom A Fine Romance (1981-1984). Then, came (arguably) her finest TV role: Jean Hardcastle, the widowed businesswoman who reconnects with her first love 38 years after they parted, in the romantic sitcom As Time Goes By (1992-2002; 2005).
Dench’s repute rose significantly with her assumption of the M character in the James Bond franchise. She first appeared in 1995’s Goldeneye and would continue to play the role in every subsequent film until Skyfall in 2012.
Dench’s other acting credits include the films Shakespeare In Love (1998), which netted her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Chocolate (2000), Notes on a Scandal (2006), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), and its sequel (2015). Entertainment Hub would like to wish Judi Dench a very happy birthday.