Anna Massey, British actress in film and period dramas
LONDON - Anna Massey, a member of an acting dynasty whose roles ranged from lonely spinsters to Margaret Thatcher, has died. She was 73.
Ms. Massey died Saturday after a battle with cancer, with her husband and son at her side, her agent Pippa Markham said.
The actress was born in 1937 into a performing family - her father was Canadian actor Raymond Massey and her mother British actress Adrianne Allen. Her brother Daniel Massey also became an actor, and her godfather was director John Ford.
Ms. Massey made her West End stage debut at 17 in “The Reluctant Debutante’’ and her film debut in Ford’s 1958 police procedural “Gideon’s Day.’’
She had roles in films including Michael Powell’s classic chiller “Peeping Tom,’’ Otto Preminger’s “Bunny Lake is Missing,’’ Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy,’’ and the 2002 adaptation of “The Importance of Being Earnest,’’ in which she played the comic governess Miss Prism.
Ms. Massey worked most frequently in television and was a stalwart of British period dramas, often cast as a waspish spinster or maiden aunt. She appeared in TV adaptations of Anthony Trollope’s “The Pallisers,’’ Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,’’ Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist,’’ and many others.
In 2006, she played former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the TV drama “Pinochet in Suburbia.’’
Markham said Ms. Massey would be remembered as “a consummate professional,’’ but the actress revealed in a memoir that she had struggled with stage fright and suffered a nervous breakdown in the 1960s.
She once said that as an actor, “I’m not instinctive. It takes enormous discipline and bravery to get me there.’’
Ms. Massey won a BAFTA, Britain’s top acting award, for her role in the 1986 TV adaptation of Anita Brookner’s novel “Hotel du Lac.’’
Ms. Massey leaves her husband, Uri Andres, and David Huggins, her son from a first marriage to the late actor Jeremy Brett.