Brenda Fricker

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Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker 1990.jpg
Fricker (left) holding her Academy Award in 1990
Born(1945-02-17) 17 February 1945 (age 69)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1964–2014[1]
Spouse(s)Barry Davies (divorced)
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Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker 1990.jpg
Fricker (left) holding her Academy Award in 1990
Born(1945-02-17) 17 February 1945 (age 69)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1964–2014[1]
Spouse(s)Barry Davies (divorced)

Brenda Fricker (born 17 February, 1945) is an Irish actress of theatre, film and television. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. In 1989, she became the first Irish actress to win an Oscar, earning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for My Left Foot. As of July 2014, she has tentatively retired from acting.[2]

Early life[edit]

Fricker was born in Dublin.[3] Her mother, "Bina" (née Murphy), was a teacher at Stratford College, and her father, Desmond Frederick Fricker, was an officer in the Department of Agriculture and a journalist for The Irish Times.[4] In her teens, she aspired to follow her parents' footsteps into journalism.[5] Fricker has an older sister, Nora Ann Grania Fricker.[citation needed]

Before becoming an actress, Fricker was assistant to the art editor of the Irish Times, with hopes to become a reporter. At age 19, she became an actress "by chance",[5] her feature film career began with a small uncredited part in the 1964 film Of Human Bondage, based on the 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. She also appeared in Tolka Row, Ireland's first ever soap opera. Her brother, Daniel Fricker, lives and works in Baltimore Maryland.


One of Fricker's first TV roles was staff nurse Maloney in Coronation St, debuting on 10 January 1977. Brenda's character attended on the birth of Tracy Barlow on 24 January 1977's episode. Fricker came to wider public attention in the United Kingdom in another nursing role, as Megan Roach in the BBC One television drama series Casualty. Fricker bowed out as Megan in December 1990, after playing the character in 65 episodes, because she believed her character had "started off with a wonderful sense of humour, [but] lost it all and all she ever seemed to do was push a trolley around and offer tea and sympathy".[5] In February 1998 she appeared in two episodes, with Megan attending the wedding of her former colleagues Charlie Fairhead and Barbara 'Baz' Samuels. In 2007, she returned for a single episode for Red Nose Day. The episode was written by Richard Curtis.[6] Fricker's final appearance as Megan was in August 2010, when the character took a lethal cocktail of drugs to end her life.

Fricker found international acclaim after she won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Christy Brown's mother in My Left Foot; among others, she thanked Christy Brown in her acceptance speech "just for being alive" and also dedicated the Oscar to Mrs. Brown, saying "Anybody who gives birth twenty-two times deserves one of these." She rejoined My Left Foot's writer/director Jim Sheridan to make the 1990 film The Field, starring alongside Richard Harris as Maggie McCabe (wife of Harris' "Bull" McCabe). She continued her television work during this period, starring in the Australian-produced short series Brides of Christ (1991). She then co-starred in the 1992 TV miniseries Seekers alongside Josette Simon, produced by Sarah Lawson.

Buoyed by her Oscar win and ensuing acclaim, Ms. Fricker went on to appear in several high profile Hollywood films, most notably in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York as the Central Park Pigeon Lady (arguably her most popular film role). The following year she portrayed May Mackenzie (the Weekly World News-obsessed Scottish mother of Mike Myers' Charlie Mackenzie) in So I Married an Axe Murderer, and next portrayed Joseph Gordon Levitt's character's motherly caretaker Maggie in Angels in the Outfield. One of her last Hollywood film roles came with A Time to Kill, as Ethel Twitty (loyal secretary to Matthew McConaughey's Jake Brigance), after which she focused almost exclusively on film and television work in Canada and the British Isles. In 2003, she played Bernie Guerin, mother of Veronica Guerin (played by Cate Blanchett) in the film of the same name. She then played nurse Eileen in the film Inside I'm Dancing. In 2007, she starred in How About You the film based on a short story about people living in a residential nursing home written by Maeve Binchy, playing Heather Nightangle. Other important roles were Omagh in 2004 as police Ombudsman Nuala O' Loan, as Graiine McFadden in the TV docudrama No Tears about the women treated with the blood product Anti D in the seventies who had been contaminated with Hepatitis C, and as Aunt Maeve in Durango in 1999, based on the novel by John B Keane.

Fricker has appeared in Closing the Ring, Richard Attenborough's post World War II drama, also starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Mischa Barton. in 2012 a high profile supporting role in Albert Nobbs earned Fricker an Irish Film Award nomination, and along with Olympia Dukakis she became half of the first pair of Oscar winning actors to play a same-sex couple in Cloudburst, a cultural milestone for the GLBT community that won awards worldwide.

Personal life[edit]

Fricker currently lives in The Liberties in Dublin. She was previously married to director Barry Davies. She says that her loves include her pet dogs, drinking Guinness, reading poetry and playing snooker. (She once stated that she had taken on the whole crew of My Left Foot. "I played pool against 17 of them, and beat them all," Brenda said).[5]

Fricker has been reported to be difficult to work with, and has been called "too reclusive for her own good sometimes."[4] She is also known for her outspoken views on a variety of matters.[4][7]



1964Of Human Bondageuncredited
1969Sinful Daveyuncredited
1978-79QuatermassAlison ThorpeTelevision series
1980Bloody KidsNurse
1982Ballroom of Romance, TheThe Ballroom of RomanceBridie
1985Woman Who Married Clark Gable, TheThe Woman Who Married Clark GableMary
1998, 2007,
CasualtyMegan RoachTelevision series
1989My Left FootMrs. Brown
1990The FieldMaggie McCabe
1991Brides of ChristSister Agnes
1992Sound and the Silence, TheThe Sound and the SilenceElizaTelevision series
1992SeekersStella HazardTelevision series
1992Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkCentral Park Pigeon Woman
1993So I Married an Axe MurdererMay Mackenzie
1993Deadly AdviceIris Greenwood
1994Man of No Importance, AA Man of No ImportanceLily Byrne
1994Angels in the OutfieldMaggie Nelson
1995JourneyLottieTelevision film
1996Moll FlandersMrs. Mazzawatti
1996Time to Kill, AA Time to KillEthel TwittyNominated — Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
1996SwannRose HindmarchNominated — Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1997MastermindsPrincipal Claire Maloney
1998Painted AngelsAnnie Ryan
1998Resurrection ManDorcas Kelly
1998Pete's MeteorLily
1999ResurrectionClare's motherTelevision remake of 1980 original
1999DurangoAunt Maeve
2000Cupid & CateWillie Hendley
2001War Bride, TheThe War BrideBettyNominated — Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
2002Intended, TheThe IntendedMrs. Jones
2003Conspiracy of SilenceAnnie McLaughlin
2003Veronica GuerinBernadette "Bernie" GuerinNominated — Irish Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress - Film
2003WatermelonTeresa Ryan
2004OmaghPolice Ombudsman Nuala O'LoanTelevision film
2004Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi FleissMadame AlexTelevision film
2004Inside I'm DancingEileenNominated — Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actress - Film
2004Razor FishMolly
2005Tara RoadMona
2007How About You
2007Closing the RingGrandma Reilly
2008Stone of Destiny
2008Beautiful PeopleNargEpisode: "How I Got My Beads"
2010Locked InJoan
2011Albert NobbsPollyNominated — Irish Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress - Film
2013A Long Way from HomeBrenda
2013Forgive Me (TV series)Mrs. Smith

Selected theatre work[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]