22 May marks the 50th anniversary of the death of English actress of stage, television and film, Dame Margaret Rutherford (1892-1972). For many she is the archetypal Miss Marple (she played the role in four films loosely based on Agatha Christie’s writings) but was also known for comedy roles.
She played Miss Prism in John Gielgud’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ in 1939 with her first major screen success in 1945 as Madame Arcati in David Lean’s ‘Blithe Spirit’. Her jaunty performance, cycling about the Kent countryside, head held high, back straight, and cape fluttering behind her, established the model for portraying that type of role.
She appeared in the Ealing Comedy ‘Passport to Pimlico’ in 1949. [For those who have never seen an Ealing Comedy, I urge you to do so. My particular favourite being ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’. Ed]
She died on 22 May 1972 in the charmingly named, almost out of a Miss Marple novel, Chalfont St Peters.