Joyce Redman, a distinguished Irish-born actress widely acclaimed for her intelligent stage presence in Shakespearean drama and French comedy, though probably best known to American audiences for her silent improvisation with a lobster, an oyster, a pear and Albert Finney in the exuberantly lascivious eating scene in the 1963 film “Tom Jones,” died on Wednesday in Kent, England. She was 96.
Her son, the actor Crispin Redman, told the BBC that Ms. Redman died of pneumonia after a brief illness.
Ms. Redman was employed almost nonstop in British theater and television from the 1940s through the 1970s, working with virtually every major repertory troupe in England, including the Old Vic and the National Theater Company, as well as the Comédie-Française in Paris.
Her diminutive size (officially 5-foot-1) and commandingly husky stage voice combined to give Ms. Redman a unique signature that she used to great effect in both dramatic and comic roles.
She was nominated for Academy Awards for best supporting actress in both genres: for her role in “Tom Jones,” based on Henry Fielding’s 18th-century comic novel, and for her portrayal of Emilia, the duped, doomed maidservant in the 1965 film version of “Othello,” with Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. She won the award for the role of Emilia.
Her portrayal of a defiant, unbowed, protofeminist Anne Boleyn opposite Rex Harrison’s Henry VIII in the Broadway production of “Anne of the Thousand Days” received rave reviews in 1948.
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