Miriam Margolyes

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Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes.jpg
Miriam Margolyes reading at an event for the charity Sense, 2006
Born(1941-05-18) 18 May 1941 (age 73)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Years active1965–present
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Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes.jpg
Miriam Margolyes reading at an event for the charity Sense, 2006
Born(1941-05-18) 18 May 1941 (age 73)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Years active1965–present

Miriam Margolyes, OBE (/ˈmɑrɡəlz/; born 18 May 1941)[1] is a British Australian character actress and voice artist. Her earliest roles were in theatre and after several supporting roles in film and television she won a BAFTA Award for her role in The Age of Innocence (1993) and went on to play the role of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film series.

Early life[edit]

Margolyes was born in Oxford, England, the daughter of Ruth (née Walters; 1905–1974), a property investor and developer, and Joseph Margolyes (1899–1996), a physician from Glasgow.[1][2] She grew up in a Jewish family,[3][4][5] her parents are descendants of immigrants from Belarus. She attended Oxford High School,[1] from 1945 until 1959, and later Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English.[6] There, she began acting in her twenties, and also appeared in productions of the comedy troupe the Cambridge Footlights.[7]

Acting career[edit]

With her distinctive voice, Margolyes first gained recognition for her work as a voice artist. She recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook.[8] She performed most of the supporting female characters in the dubbed Japanese action TV series, Monkey. She also worked with the theatre company Gay Sweatshop and provided voiceovers in the Japanese TV series The Water Margin (credited as Mirium Margolyes).

Margolyes' first major role in a film was as Elephant Ethel in Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977). In the 1980s, she made appearances in Blackadder opposite Rowan Atkinson: these roles include the Spanish Infanta in The Black Adder, Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol. In 1986 she played a major supporting role in the BBC drama The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She won the 1989 LA Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Flora Finching in the 1988 film Little Dorrit. On American television, she headlined the short-lived 1992 CBS sitcom Frannie's Turn. In 1994 she won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).

Margolyes came to the notice of younger audiences when she starred as Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach (1996); she also provided the voice of the Glow Worm in the same film. During the same time she played the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). Around this time, she voiced the rabbit character in the animated commercials for Cadbury's Caramel bars[9] and provided the voice of Fly the dog in the Australian family film Babe (1995).[10] She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

She was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked in 2006, playing Madame Morrible opposite Idina Menzel, a role she also played on Broadway in 2008.[11]

In 2009 she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End.[12]

Margolyes reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.

Other work[edit]

Margolyes is a supporter of Sense (the National Deafblind and Rubella Association) and was the host at the first Sense Creative Writing Awards, held at the Charles Dickens Museum in London in December 2006, where she read a number of works written by talented deafblind people.[1][13]

In 2011, Margolyes recorded a narrative for the album The Devil's Brides by klezmer musician-ethnographer Yale Strom.[14]

It was announced in January 2014 that Margolyes was to record the narration for "Magic in the Skies" - the summer season of firework displays held at Land's End.

Personal life[edit]

Miriam Margolyes shortly after being presented with her Australian citizenship certificate by the then prime minister Julia Gillard during the 2013 National Flag Raising and Citizenship ceremony in Canberra

Margolyes is openly gay[15] and has been with her partner Heather[10] for over 40 years.[1] She described herself as "gay" rather than as lesbian and mentioned her relationships with women on several occasions when she appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in September 2008.[16] She has since described herself as a lesbian on the Graham Norton Show in June 2012. On becoming an Australian citizen,[17] on Australia Day 2013, Margolyes referred to herself as a 'dyke' live on national television and in front of the then prime minister Julia Gillard. She is a campaigner for a respite care charity, Crossroads.[17]

She appeared on the British television quiz University Challenge in 1963, whilst at Cambridge University. As part of a BBC documentary University Challenge: The Story so Far she claimed that during her appearance, she swore after getting a question wrong, although the actual word was bleeped out of the recording.[18][19]

Margolyes is a lifelong admirer of the works of Charles Dickens and has performed all over the world a one-woman show, Dickens' Women, in which she plays 23 characters from Dickens' novels.[20]

Margolyes is a Palestinian human rights activist, having been a member of the British-based ENOUGH! coalition that seeks to end the "Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank."[21] She is also a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.[22]

Margolyes divides her time between homes in London, Tuscany and Robertson, New South Wales.[23]





Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tozer, James (28 September 2008). "My lesbian confession led to mother's stroke says Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes". Daily Mail (London). 
  2. ^ Miriam Margolyes Biography (1941–). Filmreference.com. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes on her Gorbals roots, women in comedy and how Monty Python stars shunned her". The Daily Record. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel (11 October 2009). "Miriam Margolyes: 'I'm still a naughty schoolgirl at heart'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  5. ^ http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/edinburgh-festivals/all-articles/as-miriam-margolyes-prepares-to-perform-her-one-woman-show-dedicated-to-the-women-in-the-victorian-novelist-s-fiction-she-reflects-on-her-own-fascinating-life-story-1-2452037
  6. ^ Newnham College undergraduate admissions page for English. Newn.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  7. ^ Footlights Alumni. Footlights.org. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Enough Rope". 1 October 2007.
  9. ^ "Margolyes: Voice of a movie star" 31 December 2001, BBC News
  10. ^ a b Leah O'Brien (11 May 2010). "At home with Harry Potter star, Miriam Margolyes – Local News – News – Entertainment". Southern Highland News. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Margolyes to Join Broadway's Wicked Jan. 22. Playbill.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  12. ^ Brief Encounter With … Miriam Margolyes – Endgame at Duchess Theatre – London – Interviews. Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  13. ^ Celebrity supporters | Miriam Margolyes. Sense. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  14. ^ Michael Church (15 January 2012). "Album: Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi, The Devil's Brides: Yiddish and Klezmer Song (Arc Music) – Reviews – Music". The Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  15. ^ The Graham Norton Show, 4 March 2011
  16. ^ Desert Island Discs – 28 September2008 – Miriam Margolyes. BBC. (28 September 2008). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  17. ^ a b Late Night Live – 10September2007 – Miriam Margolyes and Dickens' Women. Abc.net.au (10 September 2007). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  18. ^ Hellicar, Michael (25 December 2008). "Fingers on Buzzers: As BBC2 devotes a night of homage to University Challenge, why is this eccentric quiz so addictive?". Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  19. ^ Walker, Tim (26 September 2008). "Why Britain's comedy 'brain drain' is no joke for Ronnie Corbett". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  20. ^ Miriam Margolyes | Dickens' Women. Dickenswomen.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Emma Thompson bids for Palestinian Rights Enough!" 27 January 2007, Electronic Intifada
  22. ^ "JFJFP Signatories" Jews for Justice for Palestinians Signatory List 11 August 2012
  23. ^ "At home with Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes" 11 May 2010, Southern Highland News
  24. ^ Truitt, Brian (23 June 2010). "'Merlin' star Colin Morgan talks dragons and guest stars". USA Weekend. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56430. p. 11. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2008.

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