Patricia Claire Bloom in North Finchley, London, England, 15 February
Attended school in Cardiff; Badminton School; Fern Hill Manor School New
Milton; Dora Russel's School, London; Guildhall School of Music and
Drama, London, 1944–45; Central School of Speech and Drama, London,
Married 1) the actor Rod Steiger, 1959 (divorced 1969), daughter: Anna;
2) Hillard Elkins, 1969 (divorced 1976); 3) the writer Philip Roth, 1990.
1940–43—in the United States as evacuee: child singer and
actress on radio; 1946—radio debut in England in dramatization of
Confessions of an Opium Eater
; stage debut at Oxford Playhouse; 1947—West End debut in
The White Devil
; short film contract with J. Arthur Rank; 1948—with the Royal
Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon; 1951—cast by Charlie
; 1952—debut at Old Vic in
Romeo and Juliet
; toured with the same play in the United States, 1956; later stage
The Trojan Women
in Spoleto, 1963,
A Doll's House
in New York, 1970, and
A Streetcar Named Desire
in London, 1974; work for TV includes the mini-series
Backstairs at the White House
, 1988, and
Most Promising Newcomer, British Academy, for
Marion Rosenberg Agency, 8428 Melrose Place, Suite C, Los Angeles, CA
The Blind Goddess (French) (as Mary Dearing)
Limelight (Chaplin) (as Terry)
Innocents in Paris (Parry) (as Susan Robbins); The Man Between (Reed) (as Susanne Mallinson)
Richard III (Olivier) (as Lady Anne)
Alexander the Great (Rossen) (as Barsine)
The Brothers Karamazov (Richard Brooks) (as Katya); The Buccaneer (Quinn)
Look Back in Anger (Richardson) (as Helena Charles)
Die Schachnovelle ( Brainwashed ; The Royal Game ; Three Moves to Freedom ) (Oswald) (as Irene Andreny)
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Levin) (as Dorothea Grimm); The Chapman Report (Cukor) (as Naomi Shields)
The Haunting (Wise) (as Theodosia); Il maestro di Vigevano (Petri); 80,000 Suspects (Guest) (as Julie Monks)
"Peccato nel pommeriggio" ("Sin in the Afternoon") ep. of Alta infideltà ( High Infidelity ) (Petri) (as Laura); The Outrage (Ritt) (as Wife)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Ritt) (as Nan Perry)
Soldier in Love (Schaefer—for TV)
Charly (Nelson) (as Alice Kinian)
Three into Two Won't Go (Hall) (as Frances Howard); The Illustrated Man (Smight) (as Felicia)
A Severed Head (Dick Clement) (as Honor Klein)
Red Sky at Morning (Goldstone) (as Ann Arnold); The Going Up of David Lev (Collier—for TV)
A Doll's House (Garland) (as Nora Helmer)
Islands in the Stream (Schaffner) (as Audrey)
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Rodney Bennett—for TV) (as Gertrude)
Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis) (as Hera)
Cymbeline (Moshinsky—for TV) (as Queen)
Separate Tables (Schlesinger—for TV) (as Miss Cooper)
Memories of Monet (Martindale) (as narrator); Oedipus the King (Don Taylor—for TV) (as Jocasta); The Ghost Writer (Tristam Powell—for TV)
Déjà Vu (Richmond) (as Eleanor Harvey); Florence Nightingale (Duke—for TV) (as Fanny Nightingale); Promises to Keep (Black) (as Sally); Shadowlands (Norman Stone—for TV) (as Joy Gresham); This Lightning Always Strikes Twice (for TV)
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (Chomsky—for TV) (as Czarina Alexandra); Hold the Dream (Don Sharp—for TV) (as Edwina); Liberty (Sarafian—for TV)
Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (Frears) (as Alice); Intimate Contact (Hussein—for TV) (as Ruth)
Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun ( Shadow on the Sun )(Richardson—for TV) (as Lady Florence Delamere)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen) (as Miriam Rosenthal); The Lady and the Highwayman (Hough—for TV) (as Lady Emma Darlington)
A Hercegnoe es a Kobold ( The Princess and the Goblin ) (Gemes—animation) (as voice of Fairy Godmother); The Age of Innocence (Scorsese) (uncredited role); Miss Marple: The Mirror Crack'd ( The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side ) (Norman Stone—for TV) (as Marina Gregg); It's Nothing Personal (Bradford May—for TV) (as Evelyn Whitloff); Barbara Taylor Bradford's Remember (Herzfeld—for TV) (as Anne)
Mighty Aphrodite (Woody Allen) (as Amanda's mother); Mad Dogs and Englishmen (Henry Cole) (as Stringer's wife)
Daylight (Cohen) (as Eleanor Trilling)
Family Money (Rye for TV) (as Frances Pye); What the Deaf Man Heard (Harrison) (as Mrs. Tynan)
Wrestling with Aligators (Weltz) (Lulu Fraker); Imogen's Face (Wheatley for TV) (as Elinor); The Irish in America: Long Journey Home (Lennon II, Zwonitzer for TV)
Limelight and After: The Education of an Actress , London, 1982.
Leaving a Doll's House: A Memoir , New York, 1998.
"A Star without the Limelight," interview with P. Baker, in Films and Filming (London), March 1956.
"The Year of the Steigers," interview in Cinema (Beverly Hills), March 1966.
"Charles the Great" (remembering Charles Chaplin), in Vogue (New York), December 1992.
Cover story in Time (New York), 17 November 1952.
Current Biography 1956 , New York, 1956.
Films and Filming (London), February 1956.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 20 December 1979.
Photoplay (London), January 1982.
Bohlen, C., "New Voices for Two Silenced Russian Poets," in New York Times , 24 January 1993.
* * *
The screen persona of Claire Bloom has most often emerged as a blend of regality and vulnerability. This combination of traits manifested itself in the role of Terry, the ballerina heroine of Charles Chaplin's Limelight . Although the 1952 film did not mark her film debut (she had appeared in The Blind Goddess four years earlier), Limelight earned Bloom an international reputation. That she perceives this film as the real beginning of her career is evident from the title of her autobiography published in 1982, Limelight and After: The Education of an Actress .
Bloom's regality has characterized her performances in films ranging from Richard III , in which she played opposite Laurence Olivier, to Clash of the Titans , a Ray Harryhausen fantasy in which, as the goddess Hera, she again appeared opposite Olivier as Zeus. Vulnerability is the dominant trait of Bloom's parts in such films as The Outrage , Martin Ritt's Old West remake of Rashomon , Akira Kurosawa's study of shared guilt in feudal Japan. Perhaps Bloom has been at her most effective when a role allows her to merge the two traits. The Limelight part benefited from such an amalgam as did her characterization of Theodosia, the lesbian psychic in The Haunting . Based on a horror novel by Shirley Jackson, Robert Wise's film required Bloom to dominate such characters as Julie Harris's neurotic spinster while maintaining a somewhat subservient stance in relation to the mysterious—and, at times, frustratingly unseen—force that pervades the film's Val Lewton-ish milieu.
Bloom's continuing appearance in classical stage roles has definitely contributed to her screen presence. She has acted such Shakespearean parts as Juliet and Ophelia as well as modern roles such as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire .
Still in demand for screen work by important contemporary directors, she has appeared recently for Stephen Frears in Sammy and Rose Get Laid and for Woody Allen in the ensemble cast of the seriocomic Crimes and Misdemeanors , as well as in Allen's Mighty Aphrodite . Earlier, she essayed the role of the American divorcée who captures the heart of British writer C. S. Lewis (Joss Ackland) in a television version of William Nicholson's stage drama Shadowlands— but for Richard Attenborough's 1993 film of the play, the role was taken by Debra Winger.
Bloom's most memorable on-screen partner, however, was Richard Burton, with whom she made three films: Alexander the Great , Look Back in Anger , and, most enduringly, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold , based on John Le Carré's gloomy tale of love doomed by the duplicities of East-West espionage.
—William M. Clements, updated by John McCarty