Susannah York - Actors and Actresses




Nationality: British. Born: Susannah Yolande Fletcher in London, England, 9 January 1941. Education: Attended Marr College, Troon, Scotland; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, 1956–58. Family: Married Michael Wells, 1960 (divorced 1976), children: Sasha, Orlando. Career: On stage with provincial repertory companies; 1960—film debut in Tunes of Glory ; 1964—on stage in Wings of the Dove ; later roles in The Maids , 1974, Peter Pan , 1977, Hedda Gabler , 1981, and Agnes of God , 1983; 1982—in TV series We'll Meet Again ; also Trainer and Devices and Desires , 1991; 1985—in TV mini-series Tender Is the Night . Awards: Best Supporting Actress, British Academy, for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? , 1969; Best Actress, Cannes Festival, for Images , 1972.

Films as Actress:

1960

Tunes of Glory (Neame) (as Morag Sinclair); There Was a Crooked Man (Burge) (as Ellen)

1961

The Greengage Summer ( Loss of Innocence ) (Lewis Gilbert) (as Joss Grey)

1962

Freud ( Freud: The Secret Passion ) (Huston) (as Cecily Koertner)

1963

Tom Jones (Richardson) (as Sophie Western)

1964

The Seventh Dawn (Lewis Gilbert) (as Candace Trumpey); Scene Nun, Take One (Hatton) (as the actress)

1965

Scruggs (Hart) (as Susan); Sands of the Kalahari (Endfield) (as Grace Monckton)

1966

Kaleidoscope ( The Bank Breaker ) (Smight) (as Angel McGinnis); A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann) (as Margaret More)

1968

Mr. Sebastian ( Sebastian ) (David Greene) (as Becky Howard); Duffy (Parrish) (as Segolene); The Killing of Sister George (Aldrich) (as Alice "Childie" McNaught)

1969

Lock Up Your Daughters (Coe) (as Hilaret); Oh! What a Lovely War (Attenborough) (as Eleanor); Battle of Britain (Hamilton) (as Section Officer Maggie Harvey); They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Pollack) (as Alice LeBlanc); Country Dance ( Brotherly Love ) (J. Lee Thompson) (as Hilary Dow)

1971

Zee and Company ( X, Y, and Zee ) (Hutton) (as Stella); Jane Eyre (Delbert Mann—for TV) (title role); Happy Birthday, Wanda June (Robson) (as Penelope Ryan); Second Chance (Tewksbury—for TV)

1972

Images (Altman) (as Cathryn, + story)

1974

Gold (Hunt) (as Terry Steyner)

1975

Conduct Unbecoming (Anderson) (as Mrs. Marjorie Scarlett); The Maids (Miles) (as Claire); That Lucky Touch (Miles) (as Julia Richardson)

1976

Sky Riders (Hickox) (as Ellen Bracken); Eliza Fraser (Burstall) (title role)

1978

Superman (Richard Donner) (as Lara); The Shout (Skolimowski) (as Rachel)

1979

The Silent Partner (Duke) (as Julie Carver); The Golden Gate Murders ( Phantom of the Golden Gate ; Specter on the Bridge ) (Grauman—for TV) (as Sister Venecia)

1980

The Awakening (Newell) (as Jane Turner); Superman II (Lester) (as Lara); Long Shot (Hatton) (as herself); Falling in Love Again ( In Love ) (Paul) (as Sue Lewis, + co-sc); Loophole ( Break In ) (Quested) (as Dinah Booker)

1982

We'll Meet Again (Wharmby—for TV)

1983

Yellowbeard (Damski) (as Lady Churchill); Nelly's Version (Hatton) (as narrator)

1984

A Christmas Carol (Clive Donner—for TV) (as Mrs. Cratchit); Macho (Gessner—for TV)

1985

A Month in the Country (Lawrence); Star Quality (Dosser—for TV) (as Lorraine Barry)

1986

Alice (Gruza); Daemon (Finbow); Thriller (Gessner—for TV); Walkie Talkie (Perkins)

1987

Prettykill (Kaczender) (as Toni); Barbablu Barbablu (Carpi); Mio, moy mio (Grammatikov) (as The Weaver Woman); Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (Furie) (as voice of Lara)

1988

Just Ask for a Diamond ( Diamond's Edge ) (Bayly) (as Lauren Bacardi); A Summer Story (Haggard) (as Mrs. Narracombe); American Roulette (Hatton—for TV)

Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George
Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George

1989

Melancholia (Engel) (as Catherine Lanham Franck); En Handfull Tid ( A Handful of Time ) (Asphaug)

1990

Fate (Paul); The Man from the Pru (Rohrer—for TV) (as Amy Wallace)

1992

Illusions (Kulle) (as Dr. Sanders)

1993

Piccolo Grande Amore ( Pretty Princess ) (Vanzina) (as Queen Christina); The Higher Mortals (Finbow) (as Miss Thorogood)

1997

Loop (Niblo) (as Olivia)

1998

So This Is Romance?

2000

St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (Robert Hughes—for TV) (as Concessa)



Publications


By YORK: books—

In Search of Unicorns , London, 1973.

Lark's Castle , London, 1974.

The Big One , edited by York, London, 1984.

By YORK: articles—

"Experiences," interview with D. Elley, in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1972.

"House of York," interview with J. Williams, in Films Illustrated (London), 25 November 1972.

Interview with J. Calendo, in Interview (New York), January 1973.

"Susannah York: Realization and Relationships," interview in Films (London), April 1981.


On YORK: articles—

Lawrenson, H., "Susannah York," in Show (Hollywood), January 1962.

Elley, D., "Wistfulness and Dry Hankies: Susannah York," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1972.

"Susannah!," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), September 1981.

Film a Doba (Prague), October 1984.


* * *

When Susannah York started her career, one might have been tempted to think of her merely as the thinking man's bimbo with her blond, engaging loveliness and ingenuous blue eyes. She has, however, tackled a wide variety of roles in her film career and given the lie to this crass assumption.

After her first film role, as Alec Guinness's daughter in Tunes of Glory , Guinness called her "the best thing in films since Audrey Hepburn." York also played a sweet young thing in the Norman Wisdom comedy There Was a Crooked Man , and a lovesick schoolgirl in The Greengage Summer with Kenneth More, then appeared opposite Montgomery Clift in John Huston's Freud . The role that made her name, however, was as the captivating, innocent, and sensuous Sophie Western opposite Albert Finney in Tom Jones . After three fairly dire American films, she departed from her usual parts to play Sir Thomas More's grave and intellectual daughter in A Man for All Seasons and the passive and childlike lesbian roommate of Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George amidst all the publicity attendant upon her love scene with Coral Browne. In 1969 she won an Oscar for her performance as a blond flapper/movie aspirant in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? She also made Sky Riders with James Coburn, starred with Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine in Zee and Company , and appeared in a television film of Jane Eyre with George C. Scott.

While her roles in the 1960s and 1970s made her an international name, superstardom eluded her. One of her most interesting films of this period was Robert Altman's dreamlike psycho-thriller Images in which she played an author of children's books, which she subsequently became in real life.

Her most recent role in a major film was as Christopher Reeve's birth mother on the planet Krypton in the first two Superman films; her voice alone returned for the final installment in the series, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace . She continues to remain active in films for British and American television—among the most interesting recent examples of which was The Man from the Pru , a fictional recounting of Britain's notorious Wallace murder case (the same case that inspired the play and film Dial M for Murder ), co-starring Jonathan Pryce.

—Sylvia Paskin, updated by John McCarty

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