Category Archives: Ρέντγκρεϊβ Κόριν

Corin Redgrave, actor who paid dearly for political beliefs, dies aged 70

From The Times, April 7, 2010
Redgrave and Rachel Kempson with their children, Corin, Lynn

(Everett Collection/Rex Features)

Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson with their children, Corin, Lynn, and Vanessa, at their home in Chiswick in 1946

  • David Sanderson

For Corin Redgrave, the show always had to go on. When his beloved niece Natasha Richardson died after a skiing accident, he took to the stage within hours in the “Redgrave tradition”. When the BBC, in his words, blackballed him for two decades because of his political views, he sweated it out in relative anonymity before returning centre-stage for a new generation.

His show — encompassing stage, cinema, television, memoirs and, of course, politics — ended yesterday. After being taken ill in the early hours of Sunday he died “very peacefully and surrounded by his family”, according to his wife, Kika Markham. He was 70. His favourite Shakespeare play was King Lear, which he described as “asking the large questions”, but family was all important. More so than the stage, and more so than the political causes he passionately espoused.

«Corin was attracted by power – he actually believed the Workers’ Revolutionary Party was going to run England»

A member of an acting dynasty, the son of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, brother of Vanessa and Lynn, father of Jemma, and uncle of Joely and Natasha Richardson, Redgrave started in the “family business” while at the University of Cambridge.

From his first stage appearance at the Royal Court in 1961 as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, through the Oscar-winning film A Man for All Seasons in 1966, and then through his fallow period before a mainstream comeback to Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994 and, last year, Trumbo, about the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, Redgrave garnered credits for his intense, passionate portrayals.

This zeal carried over into politics. He believed he had been ostracised by the BBC in the 1970s because of his embracing of Marxism and the Workers’ Revolutionary Party but it did not curtail his activism. He founded Artists Against Racism, the International Movement for Peace and Justice in Chechnya, the Peace and Progress Party, which fielded three candidates in the 2005 general election, and later, with his sister Vanessa, the Guantánamo Human Rights Commission.

After stunning performances during the early 1970s in, for example, When Eight Bells Toll and The Red Baron, he had seemed poised for international stardom. Instead, he appeared intermittently until the Berlin Wall had fallen.

It was in 1994 that his rehabilitation began when cast as a corrupt policeman in the Guildford Four film In the Name of the Father. His appearance in Four Weddings, one of British cinema’s biggest films, led to key roles in Persuasion and The Ice House, and in 1998 a Laurence Olivier award for his performance as Boss Whalen in Tennessee Williams’s Not About Nightingales. He also wrote a memoir of Michael Redgrave, formed The Moving Theatre Company, campaigned to save a theatre in Surrey and in 2005 received the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award for his lifelong commitment to the Bard.

But in 2005, while speaking in Essex in support of travellers, he had a heart attack. Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 2000. His first wife, Deirdre Hamilton-Hill, had died of cancer. A statement from his family said they would “miss him so very much”.

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Πέθανε σε ηλικία 70 ετών ο Βρετανός ηθοποιός Κόριν Ρέντγκρεϊβ

Ένα ακόμη μέλος της θρηνεί η «δυναστεία» ηθοποιών των Ρέντγκρεϊβ μετά το θάνατο του 70χρονου Κόριν την Τρίτη, γνωστού τόσο για την καλλιτεχνική του παρουσία όσο και για τον πολιτικό ακτιβισμό του. Το 2000 είχε μάθει ότι έπασχε από καρκίνο του προστάτη, ενώ το 2005 υπέστη καρδιακό επεισόδιο. Την Κυριακή κατέρρευσε και πέθανε την Τρίτη σε νοσοκομείο του Λονδίνου «περιστοιχιζόμενος από τους συγγενείς του», όπως ανέφερε η οικογένεια. Ο Κόριν δεν ήταν τόσο διάσημος όσο οι αδερφές του Βανέσα και Λιν, αλλά οι συνάδελφοί του δεν θεωρούσαν πως έφερε ανάξια το όνομα των Ρεντγκρεϊβ: Ξεκίνησε την καριέρα του στο σανίδι το 1961 στο Royal Court Theatre η οποία δεν σταμάτησε μέχρι πέρυσι, ενώ είχε τιμηθεί με αρκετά βραβεία. Ο ίδιος ήταν πιο γνωστός όμως για τις πολιτικές του θέσεις: Μαρξιστής, είχε δηλώσει την αντίθεσή του στον πόλεμο του Ιράκ συμμετέχοντας στην ομάδα που είχε ζητήσει την παραπομπή του Τόνι Μπλερ για την εισβολή, ενώ το 2004 είχε ιδρύσει μαζί με την αδερφή του Βανέσα το Κόμμα Ειρήνης και Προόδου (που είχε κατεβάσει αρκετούς υποψηφίους στις επόμενες εκλογές). Τη δυναστεία Ρέντγκρεϊβ, που μετρά τέσσερις γενιές ηθοποιών, είχε κτυπήσει με τραγικό τρόπο ο θάνατος το 2009 όταν η 45χρονη Νατάσα Ρίτσαρντσον (κόρη της Βανέσα) σκοτώθηκε κάνοντας σκι.

  • Corin Redgrave obituary

  • A political radical, as an actor he excelled at playing tortured establishment figures

Corin Redgrave

Corin Redgrave as Lear and David Hargreaves as the Earl of Gloucester at Stratford in 2004. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Corin Redgrave, who has died aged 70, was both a formidable actor and a strenuous political activist. But, while it is fashionably easy to suggest that his career was blighted by his political activities, I suspect his talent was intimately related to his radical political convictions. And, if he enjoyed a golden theatrical rebirth from the late 1980s onwards, it may have had less to do with politics than with his determination to inherit the mantle of his revered father. Before he suffered a severe heart attack in 2005, Redgrave’s later years yielded some of his finest work.

Redgrave was born, in London, into the theatrical purple. His father, Sir Michael, was both a great classical actor and a popular film star; his mother, Rachel Kempson, was also a distinguished actor. Educated at Westminster school, Redgrave won a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, where he got a first in classics. He was part of a glorious era in Cambridge undergraduate theatre, where his contemporaries included Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn. Having shone as both actor and director, he had a seemingly assured pathway into the theatre and, shortly after leaving Cambridge, was playing Lysander in Tony Richardson’s 1962 Royal Court production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For a few years his acting career progressed steadily alongside his growing political commitment. He played the Pilot Officer in Arnold Wesker’s Chips With Everything in London in 1962 – and in New York the following year – and appeared in a number of West End shows, including Lady Windermere’s Fan in 1966 and Abelard and Heloise in 1971, before moving to Stratford in 1972, where he was memorably matched with John Wood as the twin Antipholi in The Comedy of Errors.

His elder sister, Vanessa, had stimulated his interest in politics in the early 1960s when she encouraged him to join the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In 1971 he joined the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP). Vanessa has recorded how, in 1973, he gave her a pamphlet, A Marxist Analysis of the Crisis, which related the economic troubles of the time to the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement and which hugely influenced her thinking: the pupil had become the master.

Redgrave’s preoccupation with politics led to the break-up of his first marriage (dissolved in 1975), to the former model, Deirdre Hamilton-Hill. It also took primacy over his acting career as he increasingly devoted himself to organisational activities with the WRP. From 1974 to 1989, his stage, film and TV appearances became ever rarer. He took time off from the WRP only to help his father write his autobiography, In My Mind’s Eye (1983), in which Michael’s tortured bisexuality was cryptically acknowledged.

When Corin re-emerged into the limelight in the late 1980s, playing Coriolanus at the Young Vic in a David Thacker production, it was as a stronger, better actor. It may have been because he felt he was no longer competing with his father. It may have been because he had, by then, made a blissfully happy second marriage, to the actor Kika Markham; they wed in 1985. Or it may have been because he had found a way of channelling his radical politics into his work. Whatever the explanation, he enjoyed a sensational late flowering as an actor in his 50s and 60s.

Redgrave had a particular gift for playing establishment figures tortured by doubt and fear: something he had witnessed first-hand in his own father. He played Sir Hugo Latymer in Sheridan Morley’s King’s Head and West End revival of Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight (1999): a remarkable portrayal of a repressed, buttoned-up homosexual. What added to the extraordinariness of the occasion was that Coward had been one of his father’s lovers; the sense of a family affair was heightened by the presence of Markham as Sir Hugo’s long-suffering wife and of Vanessa Redgrave as a former lover. A few years earlier, the three had also collaborated, founding the Moving Theatre Company.

At the National Theatre, he followed a fine performance as an authoritarian prison governor in Tennessee Williams’s Not About Nightingales (1998) with a deeply moving one as Hirst in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land (2001). Redgrave’s Hirst, a literary dinosaur immured in a world of fastidious elegance, eclipsed memories of Ralph Richardson as he gazed in sadness at the faces of his dead contemporaries in aged photo albums.

In 2004 he enjoyed a rich season with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Through a mixture of natural intelligence and careful husbanding of his resources, he reached the summit as King Lear on the same stage where his father had played the role more than 50 years previously. «I was 13,» he remembered in an article for the Guardian in 2005. «My father was leading the Memorial Theatre Company, playing Shylock, Antony and Lear. My mother, also in the company, always a little in my father’s shadow, played Octavia and Regan. I learned to love the sound of Shakespeare from my father. Like John Gielgud, he had an effortless command of the rhythms, cadences and stresses of blank verse. But it was my mother who taught me to love Shakespeare’s stories.»

Relying on his political instincts, Redgrave presented us with a Lear who learned too late that power was no protection against mortal suffering: especially moving was the reunion with Cordelia, where he was reduced to crawling, childlike, on all fours.

Redgrave followed Lear with a solo show, Tynan, in which he conveyed – at Stratford and at London’s Arts Theatre – the famous critic’s political, aesthetic and sexual radicalism without ever stooping to impersonation. Redgrave’s ability to command a stage was also proved in Blunt Speaking, which he both wrote and performed for Chichester’s Minerva Theatre in 2002. Not the least remarkable aspect of this portrait of the Marxist aesthete Sir Anthony Blunt was his ability to persuade a Chichester audience to join him in a chorus of the Internationale.

At Shakespeare’s Globe in 2005, he also showed he could become a selfless member of an ensemble, playing the elder Pericles in Kathryn Hunter’s highly physical revival of Shakespeare’s late romance. It was during the run of that production that he suffered a severe heart attack. But he heroically resumed work, appearing as the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, at the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2009: his fortitude was all the more remarkable in that the opening coincided with the death of his niece, Natasha Richardson.

Redgrave claimed for many years that he had been dropped by the BBC because of his radical politics. For all that, he made memorable TV appearances in Persuasion (1995) and The Forsyte Saga (2002) and also wrote the BBC radio plays Roy and Daisy (1998) and Fool for the Rest of his Life (2000). With director Roger Michell, he made a deeply moving Omnibus film based on his 1995 autobiographical book, Michael Redgrave: My Father.

He had appeared occasionally in films since the 1960s, with early credits such as A Man for All Seasons, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Oh! What a Lovely War, and later films including In the Name of the Father, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Enigma and Enduring Love.

Politics obviously had a huge influence on Redgrave’s life and career. But, if that suggests he was a flaming firebrand, I can only say that he was, in my personal contacts with him, an extraordinarily modest and courteous man.

Deirdre Hamilton-Hill died in 1997. Redgrave is survived by their son Luke and daughter Jemma; by Kika and their two sons, Harvey and Arden; and by his sisters Vanessa and Lynn.

• Corin William Redgrave, actor and political activist, born 16 July 1939; died 6 April 2010