Susannah York

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“Susannah York”

 

Susannah York (9 January 1939[1] – 15 January 2011) was a British film, stage and television actress. She was awarded a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actress for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)[2] and was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for the same film. She won best actress for Images at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. In 1991 she was appointed an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.[2] Her appearances in various hit films of the 1960s formed the basis of her international reputation,[3] and an obituary in The Telegraph characterised her as “the blue-eyed English rose with the china-white skin and cupid lips who epitomised the sensuality of the swinging Sixties”.

Early Life and Work

York was born Susannah Yolande Fletcher in Chelsea, London in 1939, the younger daughter of Simon William Peel Vickers Fletcher (1910–2002), a merchant banker and steel magnate, and his first wife, the former Joan Nita Mary Bowring – they married in 1935 and divorced prior to 1943.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Her maternal grandfather was Walter Andrew Bowring, CBE, a British diplomat who served as Administrator of Dominica (1933–1935); she was a great-great-granddaughter of political economist Sir John Bowring.[4][6][11][12][13] York had an elder sister, as well as a half-brother, Eugene Xavier Charles William Peel Fletcher, from her father’s second marriage to Pauline de Bearnez de Morton de La Chapelle.[5][14][15][16][17]

In early 1943, her mother married a Scottish businessman, Adam M. Hamilton, and moved, with her daughter, to Scotland.[18][19] At the age of 11 York entered Marr College in Troon, Ayrshire.[4][20] Later she became a boarder at Wispers School, a school housed in Wispers, a Norman Shaw-designed country house in the Sussex village of Stedham. Still aged 13 she was removed – effectively expelled – from Wispers after owning up to a naked midnight swim in the school pool, and she transferred to East Haddon Hall in Northamptonshire.[4][20]

Enthused by her experiences of acting at school (she had played an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at the age of nine), York first decided to apply to the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art; but after her mother had separated from her stepfather and moved to London, she instead auditioned for RADA.[2][4][20][21] There she won the Ronson award for most promising student[22] before graduating in 1958

 

Career

Film

Her film career began with Tunes of Glory (1960), co-starring with Alec Guinness and John Mills. In 1961, she played the leading role in The Greengage Summer, which co-starred Kenneth More and Danielle Darrieux. In 1962, she performed in Freud: The Secret Passion with Montgomery Clift in the title role.

York played Sophie Western opposite Albert Finney in the Oscar winning Best Film Tom Jones (1963) and also appeared in A Man for All Seasons (1966), The Killing of Sister George (1968) and Battle of Britain (1969). She co-starred with George C. Scott (as Edward Rochester) playing the title role in an American television movie of Jane Eyre (1970).

York was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969). She famously snubbed the Academy when, regarding her nomination, she declared it offended her to be nominated without being asked. She did attend the ceremony but lost to Goldie Hawn for her role in Cactus Flower.[24]

In 1972, she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Images.[25] She played Superman’s mother Lara on the doomed planet Krypton in Superman (1978) and its sequels, Superman II (1980) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). York made extensive appearances in British television series, including Prince Regent (1979), as Maria Fitzherbert, the clandestine wife of the future George IV, and We’ll Meet Again (1982).

In 1984, York starred as Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (1984), based on the novel by Charles Dickens. She again co-starred with George C. Scott (as Ebenezer Scrooge), David Warner (Bob Cratchit), Frank Finlay (Jacob Marley), Angela Pleasence (The Ghost of Christmas Past) and Anthony Walters (Tiny Tim Cratchit).

In 1992, she was a member of the jury at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[26]

In 2003, York had a recurring role as hospital manager Helen Grant in the BBC1 television drama series Holby City. She reprised this role in two episodes of Holby City’s sister series Casualty in May 2004. Her last film was The Calling, released in 2010 in the UK.

Stage

In 1978, York appeared on stage at the New End Theatre in London in The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs with Lucinda Childs, directed by French director Simone Benmussa. The following year, she appeared in Paris, speaking French in a play by Henry James: Appearances, with Sami Frey. The play was again directed by Benmussa.

In the 1980s, again with Benmussa, York played in For no good Reason, an adaptation of George Moore’s short story, with Susan Hampshire. In 2007, she appeared in the UK tour of The Wings of the Dove, and continued performing her internationally well received solo show, The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women. Also in 2007, she guest starred in the Doctor Who audio play Valhalla. In 2008, she played the part of Nelly in an adaptation by April De Angelis of Wuthering Heights.

According to the website of Italian symphonic metal band Rhapsody of Fire (previously known as Rhapsody), York had been recruited for a narrated part on the band’s next full-length album Triumph or Agony. In 2009, she starred alongside Jos Vantyler in The Tennessee Williams Triple Bill at The New End Theatre, London for which she received critical acclaim.[27]

York’s last stage performance was as Jean in Ronald Harwood’s Quartet, at the Oxford Playhouse in August 2010.[28] She demonstrated her undoubted Star Quality when she appeared in a 1985 production of the play of the same name, the last ever written by Sir Noel Coward

 

Writing and Personal Appearances

In the 1970s, she wrote two children’s fantasy novels, In Search of Unicorns (1973), revised (1984) which was excerpted in the film Images, and Lark’s Castle (1976, revised 1986).[29]

She was a guest, along with David Puttnam on the BBC Radio 4 documentary I Had The Misery Thursday, a tribute programme to film actor Montgomery Clift, which was aired in 1986, on the twentieth anniversary of Clift’s death. York co-starred with him in Freud, John Huston’s 1962 film biography of the psychoanalyst.

 

Personal Life

In the 1970s, she wrote two children’s fantasy novels, In Search of Unicorns (1973), revised (1984) which was excerpted in the film Images, and Lark’s Castle (1976, revised 1986).[29]

She was a guest, along with David Puttnam on the BBC Radio 4 documentary I Had The Misery Thursday, a tribute programme to film actor Montgomery Clift, which was aired in 1986, on the twentieth anniversary of Clift’s death. York co-starred with him in Freud, John Huston’s 1962 film biography of the psychoanalyst.

Video Clip

TV and Filmography

1. 1960 There Was a Crooked Man -Ellen, Tunes of Glory -Morag Sinclair

2. 1961 The Greengage Summer Joss Grey

3. 1962 Freud: The Secret Passion Cecily Koertner

4. 1963 Tom Jones Sophie Western

5. 1964 The 7th Dawn -Candace Trumpey,
Scene Nun, Take One -The Actress

6. 1965 Sands of the Kalahari -Grace Munkton,
Scruggs -Susan

7. 1966 The Fall of the House of Usher (TV),- Madeleine Usher, Kaleidoscope -Angel McGinnis,
A Man for All Seasons– Margaret More

8. 1968 Sebastian,- Rebecca Howard
, Duffy -Segolene,
The Killing of Sister George -Alice ‘Childie’ McNaught

8. 1969 Oh! What a Lovely War,- Eleanor,
Battle of Britain,- Section Officer Maggie Harvey,
Lock Up Your Daughters -Hilaret,
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? -Alice Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

9. 1970 Jane Eyre,-Jane Eyre
Country Dance,- Hilary Dow

10. 1971 Happy Birthday, Wanda June -Penelope Ryan

11. 1972 Zee and Co.,- Stella, Images Cathryn Best Actress Award (Cannes Film Festival)

12. 1974 Gold -Terry Steyner,
The Maids -Claire

13. 1975 Conduct Unbecoming, -Mrs. Marjorie Scarlett,
That Lucky Touch, -Julia Richardson

14. 1976 Sky Riders -Ellen Bracken
Eliza Fraser -Eliza Fraser

15. 1978 The Shout -Rachel Fielding
The Silent Partner -Julie Carver
Superman -Lara

16. 1979 Prince Regent (TV miniseries) Mrs. Fitzherbert
The Golden Gate Murders (TV) Sister Benecia

17. 1980 Long Shot An Actress
The Awakening Jane Turner
Superman II Lara
Loophole Dinah Booker
Late Flowering Love Falling in Love Again Sue Lewis

18. 1981 Second Chance (TV series) Kate Hurst

19. 1982 We’ll Meet Again (TV series) Helen Dereham
Alicja Queenie

20. 1983 Yellowbeard Lady Churchill
Nelly’s Version (TV) Narrator (voice).

21. 1984 A Christmas Carol (TV) Mrs. Cratchit

22. 1985 Star Quality (TV) Lorraine Barry Daemon (TV)
Tomorrow’s a Killer, aka Prettykill Toni

23. 1987 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Lara (voice)
Mio min Mio Seamstress
Barbablú, Barbablú

24. 1988 A Summer Story Mrs. Narracombe
Just Ask for Diamond Lauren Bacardi

25. 1989 Melancholia Catherine Lanham Franck
After the War (TV miniseries) Irene Jameson
Quattro piccole donne (TV)
En Håndfull tid Susanne Walker

26. 1990 The Man from the PVU (TV) Amy Wallace
Fate

27. 1991 Devices and Desires (TV miniseries) Meg Dennison
Trainer (TV series) Rachel Ware

28. 1992 Illusions (TV) Dr. Sinclair

29. 1993 Piccolo grande amore Queen Christina

30. 1997 Loop Olivia
Dark Blue Perfume (TV) Liz

31. 1998 So This Is Romance? Mike’s Mum

32. 2000 St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (TV) Concessa
Jean Jean

33. 2002 The Book of Eve

34. 2003 Visitors Carolyn Perry

35. 2004 Love Is a Survivor Present Day Roma

36. 2006 The Gigolos Tessa

37. 2007 Maude Maude

38. 2008 Franklyn Margaret

.39 2010 The Calling The prioress


References

  • 1. “Births”. The Times (11 January 1939). “FLETCHER. – on Jan. 9, 1939, at 18, Walpole Street, S.W.3. to Joan, wife of Peel Fletcher – a daughter”
  • 8.Marriage between Joan N.M. Bowring and [Simon] William P. Fletcher listed in England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005, accessed on ancestry.com on 16 January 2011
  • 9. Though York claimed she was born in 1942, the birth of Susannah Y Fletcher to a mother whose maiden name was Bowring is recorded as having occurred in 1939 in England & Wales Birth Index: 1916-2005, accessed on ancestry.com on 16 January 2011
  • 10.The marriage between Joan N.M. Bowring Fletcher, and Adam M. Hamilton took place in London, England, in early 1943, according to England and Wales Marriage Index, 1916-2005, accessed on ancestry.com on 16 January 2010
  • 13. Arthur Charles Fox Davies, Armorial Families (Hurst & Blackett, 1929), page 199
  • 14. The London Gazette, 28 August 1942, page 3799, gives the full maiden name of York’s stepmother as Pauline Laura Aylmer Eugenie de Bearnez de Morton de La Chapelle and gives her former married name as Marsh. The Nobilities of Europe (Elbiron.com, page 327) states that she was a granddaughter of French historian Jean Joseph Xavier Alfred de La Chapelle, Count de La Chapelle and Morton.
  • 15. Eugene Xavier C. W. P. Fletcher was born to Simon Fletcher and his second wife, née de La Chapelle, in late 1942, in London, according to England & Wales Birth Index, 1916-2005, Volume 1a, page 435, accessed on ancestry.com on 16 January 2011. He is also listed in the same book (Volume 5c, page 5/62), same date, same location, but with the mother’s maiden name being given as “Le Bearney Morton de la Chapelle”.
  • 16. England & Wales Marriage Index, 1916-2005 (Volume 1a, page 705) states that Simon Fletcher married Pauline E.L.A. de Bearnaz de Morton de La Chapelle (formerly Mrs Marsh) in early 1943. The couple had divorced by early 1949, when Pauline Fletcher married her third husband, Richard G. Williams.
  • 18. The marriage between Joan N.M. Bowring Fletcher, and Adam M. Hamilton, took place in London, England, in early 1943, according to England and Wales Marriage Index, 1916-2005, accessed on ancestry.com on 16 January 2010
  • 23. “Susannah York profile at RADA