Tony Richardson

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Tony Richardson
BornCecil Antonio Richardson
(1928-06-05)5 June 1928
Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died14 November 1991(1991-11-14) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of death
Resting place
OccupationDirector, producer
Years active1952–1991
Spouse(s)Vanessa Redgrave
Children3; including Natasha, Joely
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For other people named Tony Richardson, see Tony Richardson (disambiguation).
Tony Richardson
BornCecil Antonio Richardson
(1928-06-05)5 June 1928
Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died14 November 1991(1991-11-14) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of death
Resting place
OccupationDirector, producer
Years active1952–1991
Spouse(s)Vanessa Redgrave
Children3; including Natasha, Joely

Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson (5 June 1928 – 14 November 1991) was an English theatre and film director and producer whose career spanned five decades. In 1964 he won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film Tom Jones. He died of AIDS-related causes at age 63 in 1991.

Personal life[edit]

Richardson was born in Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1928, the son of Elsie Evans (Campion) and Clarence Albert Richardson, a chemist.[1] He was Head Boy at Ashville College, Harrogate and attended Wadham College, Oxford, where his contemporaries included Rupert Murdoch, Margaret Thatcher, Kenneth Tynan, Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert. He had the unprecedented distinction of being the President of both the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club (the ETC), in addition to being the theatre critic for the university magazine Isis.[2] Those he cast in his student productions included Shirley Williams (as Cordelia), John Schlesinger, Nigel Davenport and Robert Robinson.[3]

Richardson was married to actress Vanessa Redgrave from 1962 to 1967. The couple had two daughters, Natasha (1963–2009) and Joely Richardson (born 1965), both actresses. He left Redgrave for actress Jeanne Moreau,[4] although the marriage he had anticipated never materialised. In 1972 he also had a relationship with Grizelda Grimond, who was a secretary for Richardson's partner (ex-partner, by that time) Oscar Lewenstein, and the daughter of British politician Jo Grimond. Grizelda bore him a daughter, Katharine Grimond, on 8 January 1973.[5]

Richardson was bisexual, but never acknowledged it publicly until after he contracted HIV. He died of complications from AIDS in 1991.[6][4]


Richardson's house, 28 Bingley Road, Shipley from 1928–48.
BFI plaque commemorating Richardson's contribution to cinema.

In 1955, in his directing debut,[7] Richardson produced Jean Giraudoux's The Apollo of Bellac for Television with Denholm Elliott and Natasha Parry in the main roles.[8] Around the same time he began to be active in Britain's Free Cinema movement, co-directing the non-fiction short Momma Don't Allow (also 1955) with Karel Reisz.

Part of the British "New Wave" of directors, he was involved in the formation of the English Stage Company, along with his close friend George Goetschius and George Devine. He directed John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre, and in the same period he directed Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then in 1957 he directed Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice in Osborne's next play The Entertainer, again for the Royal Court.

In 1959, Richardson co-founded Woodfall Film Productions with John Osborne and producer Harry Saltzman, and, as Woodfall's debut, directed the film version of Look Back in Anger, his first feature film.

In 1964 Richardson received two Academy Awards (Best Director and Best Picture) for Tom Jones (1963). The prestige that lent him led immediately to The Loved One, during which he worked with established stars such as John Gielgud, Rod Steiger and Robert Morse working in Hollywood both on location and on the sound stage. In his autobiography[9] he confesses that he did not share the general admiration of Haskell Wexler, who worked on The Loved One as both director of photography and a producer.

The films of Richardson's mid-career had nothing in common beyond shrewd collaborations with very talented people. Among his acting stars were Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, David Hemmings, Nicol Williamson, Marianne Faithfull, Richard Burton,[10] Anthony Hopkins, Mick Jagger, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield and Judi Dench. His musical composers included Antoine Duhamel, John Addison and Shel Silverstein. His screenwriters were Jean Genet, Christopher Isherwood, Terry Southern, Marguerite Duras, Edward Bond (adapting Vladimir Nabokov) and Edward Albee. Richardson and Osborne eventually fell out[11] during production of the film Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). The basic issue was Osborne's unwillingness to go through the rewrite process, more arduous in film than it is in the theatre. Richardson himself had a different version. In his autobiography (p. 195) he writes that Osborne was angry at being replaced, in a small rôle, by Laurence Harvey to whom the producers had obligations. Osborne took literary revenge by creating a fictionalised and pseudonymous Richardson – a domineering and arrogant character whom everyone hated – in his play Hotel in Amsterdam.

Stylistically, Richardson's oeuvre was highly varied. Mademoiselle was shot noir-style on location in rural France with a static camera, monochrome film stock and no music. The Charge of the Light Brigade was part epic and part animated feature. Ned Kelly was what might be called an Aussie-western. Laughter in the Dark and A Delicate Balance were psycho-dramas. Joseph Andrews was a return to the mood of Tom Jones.

He financed the escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison of the spy and double agent George Blake in 1966.[12]

In 1970 Richardson was set to direct a film about Vaslav Nijinsky with a script by Edward Albee starring Rudolf Nureyev as Nijinsky, Claude Jade as Romola and Paul Scofield as Diaghilev, but producer Harry Saltzman cancelled the project during pre-production.

In 1974 he went to Los Angeles to work on a script (never produced) with Sam Shepard, and to his own surprise took up residence there.[13] Later that year he began work on Mahogany (1975), starring Diana Ross, but was sacked by Motown head Berry Gordy shortly after production began.[14] Gordy took over direction himself.

Richardson was to make four more major films before his death. His last, Blue Sky, was released posthumously and won a Best Actress Oscar for Jessica Lange.

Filmography (as director)[edit]


sources: Adler; Little & McLaughlin; Richardson

1954The ChangelingWyndham'sLondon1 perf.
1955The Country WifeTh. Royal, Stratford ELondon3 weeks
1955Mr Kettle & Mrs Moon[15]DuchessLondon
1956The Mulberry Bush[16]Royal CourtLondon
1956The Crucible[16]Royal CourtLondon
1956Look Back in AngerRoyal CourtLondon151 perf.
1956Cards of IdentityRoyal CourtLondon
1957Look Back in AngerJohn Golden, LyceumNew York~1 year
1957Look Back in AngerMoscow
1957The Member of the WeddingRoyal CourtLondon
1957The EntertainerRoyal CourtLondon4 weeks
1957The Apollo of BellacRoyal CourtLondon
1957The ChairsRoyal CourtLondon
1957The EntertainerPalaceLondon6 months
1957The Making of MooRoyal CourtLondon
1957Requiem for a NunRoyal CourtLondon
1958The EntertainerRoyaleNew York
1958The Chairs & The LessonPhoenixNew York17 perf.
1958Flesh to a TigerRoyal CourtLondon
1959Orpheus DescendingRoyal CourtLondon
1959Look After Lulu!Royal CourtLondon45 perf.
1959Look After Lulu!NewLondon5 months
1960A Taste of HoneyLos Angeles
1960A Taste of HoneyBooth, LyceumNew York376 perf.
1961The ChangelingRoyal CourtLondon
1961LutherRoyal Court[18]London28 perf.
1961LutherPhoenixLondon239 perf.
1962A Midsummer Night's DreamRoyal CourtLondon29 perf.
1963Natural AffectionBoothNew York31 perf.
1963LutherLunt-Fontanne, St. JamesNew York6 months
1963Semi-DetachedMusic BoxNew York12 perf.
1963Arturo UiLunt-FontanneNew York8 perf.
1964The Milk Train...[19]Brooks AtkinsonNew York5 perf.
1964The SeagullQueen'sLondon
1964St Joan of the StockyardsQueen'sLondon3 weeks
1969HamletRoundhouseLondon10 weeks
1969HamletLunt-FontanneNew York[20]52 perf.
1972The Threepenny OperaPrince of WalesLondon
1972I, ClaudiusQueen'sLondon
1973Anthony and CleopatraBankside Globe PlayhouseLondon
1976The Lady from the SeaCircle in the Square TheatreNew York
1979As You Like ItCenter TheatreLong Beach
1983ToyerKennedy CenterWashington
1984DreamhouseL.A. Stage Co.Hollywood


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richardson, pp 1–5
  2. ^ Richardson, p.45
  3. ^ Adler, p.26
  4. ^ a b " "The cursed legacy that still haunts Vanessa Redgrave". Daily Mail (UK). 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Richardson, p.233
  6. ^ Heilpern, p.142
  7. ^ David Parkinson, 'Richardson, Cecil Antonio [Tony] (1928–1991)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  8. ^ "Giraudoux Play on Television 'The Apollo of Bellac'", The Times, 13 August 1955
  9. ^ Richardson, p.163
  10. ^ Until dismissed by Richardson for repeatedly failing to show up on set as contracted (Richardson, p.212-3)
  11. ^ Heilpern, pp.346–51
  12. ^ "John Quine". The Daily Telegraph (London). 12 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Richardson, p.242. The surprise was not so much his expatriation as his choice of Los Angeles – he was more drawn to New York City, which he had loved ever since taking Look Back in Anger to Broadway. He rather despised the Hollywood life, as the quotation makes clear.
  14. ^ The proximate cause of the split was disagreement over casting a walk-on rôle. When Gordy directed cameraman David Watkin to shoot a scene with his choice, the crew went on strike. (Richardson, p.246-7)
  15. ^ Tony was actually fired by the author, J.B. Priestley, who took over directing himself
  16. ^ a b As Asst. to George Devine
  17. ^ Starring Paul Robeson
  18. ^ Also Nottingham, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh Festival
  19. ^ Starring Tallulah Bankhead
  20. ^ Also toured

External links[edit]