Full name, Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft; born December 22, 1907, in Croydon,England; died after suffering a stroke, June 14, 1991, in London, England. Actress. Regarded as one of England's most venerable actresses, Ashcroft starred in stage, film, and television. In 1930, she played Desdemona in a production of Othello that cast Paul Robeson in the title role. Later in hercareer, Ashcroft often costarred with other famous actors and actresses, including John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Alec Guiness, and Peter O'Toole. Her many stage performances included numerous appearances in Shakespearean plays, as well as roles in Hedda Gabler and The Cherry Orchard. Aschroft was a charter member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, becoming a director in 1968. One of her most acclaimed performances was her portrayal of Margaret of Anjou in the Company's 1963 production of Wars of the Roses. Among Ashcroft's television appearances were Emmy Award-nominated performances in A Perfect Spy in 1989 and The Jewel in the Crown in 1984. In 1984 as well she played the role of Mrs. Moore in a film version of A Passage to India, for which she won an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for best actress. Ashcroft received the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1956. A theater in her hometown of Croydon was named in her honor.