Lynn Redgrave valiantly battled breast cancer while suffering the loss of her niece, Natasha Richardson, and, a month ago, her brother, the actor Corin Redgrave.
Lynn Redgrave (3/8/43 – 5/2/10)
“Our beloved mother Lynn Rachel passed away peacefully after a seven year journey with breast cancer,” children Ben, Pema and Annabel said in a statement following her death at her Connecticut home Sunday night. “She lived, loved and worked harder than ever before.
“The endless memories she created as a mother, grandmother, writer, actor and friend will sustain us for the rest of our lives.
“Our entire family asks for privacy through this difficult time.”
To think of the stages she shared: Early on, with the National Theatre’s first season at the Old Vic — under directors Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli, and Noel Coward, to name a few.
The list of colleagues also includes Tom Stoppard, Peter O’Toole, Geraldine Page, Charles Durning, Ruth Gordon, Rex Harrison, Mary Tyler Moore — and, of course, her sister.
Vanessa Redgrave always seemed to take the more serious roles.
Yet raven-haired Lynn’s reach was so wide that different people know her for different accomplishments — even if it’s as one of the original “Weight Watchers” TV spokeswomen.
(Here’s an excerpt from an interview she gave less than 10 months ago:)
Redgrave was never scared of changing or re-arranging herself, to borrow a lyric. Some recall her brilliant one-woman show, “Shakespeare for My Father,” produced and directed by her then-husband, John Clark, or one of her other later stage productions, “Gods and Monsters.”
Or it was Redgrave’s role as the chubby but iconic “Georgy Girl,” which drew Oscar and Golden Globe nominations nearly 45 years ago. It was only her third film — after “Tom Jones” and “Girl With Green Eyes” — yet it put her on the pop culture map.
In the years that followed, Redgrave took on roles that allowed her to expose — and, one hopes — exorcise her personal demons. Trouble with her weight led to bulimia, and her life literally became an open book. Indeed, “Shakespeare for My Father” is as painful as it it is a passionate exploration of her desire to be noticed by a talented but shy man who headed a family of acting royalty.
“I didn’t really know [Sir Michael Redgrave],” she said in a 1993 interview. “I lived in his house. I was in awe of him and I adored him, and I was terrified of him and I hated him and I loved him, all in one go.”
A dry spell on the world stage ended quickly with Redgrave’s role as the wife of the mentally ill Australian piano genius David Helfgott in the incredibly popular film “Shine.”
In 2006-2007, she appeared in “Nightingale,” a solo performance based upon her maternal grandmother, Beatrice, and the end of her 32-year marriage to Clark, who had disclosed that he had fathered a child with the future wife of their son, Benjamin, among other sordid indiscretions.
Redgrave also wrote a book about breast cancer with her daughter that she reportedly had hoped to transform into another play.