Rachel Kempson, aka Lady Redgrave, matriarch of the Redgrave acting family and an actress of stature herself, died Saturday May 24 at in Millbrook, N.Y., after suffering a stroke. She was just a few days shy of her 93rd birthday.
Native of Dartmouth, England, met future husband Michael Redgrave in 1934 while working at the Liverpool Playhouse, and they wed the next year. Their tumultuous marriage endured 50 years, until the husband’s death in 1985. But from their union came thesps Corin Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave, while grandchildren include thesps Natasha Richardson, Joely Richardson and Jemma Redgrave.
Kempson trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. A founding member of the English Stage Company, her many stage roles included famed Shakespearean productions as well as “Blithe Spirit,” “Venus Observed,” “Hedda Gabler,” “The School for Scandal,” “A Sense of Detachment” and so much more. In 1998, she and her daughters participated in a Los Angeles reading of Chekhov’s “The Lady with a Dog.”
Film credits include “The Captive Heart,” “Tom Jones,” “Georgy Girl” (with daughter Lynn), “Grand Prix,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Jane Eyre,” “Little Lord Fauntleroy” and “Out of Africa.”
TV minis and telepics include series likes “Elizbeth R,” “The Jewel in the Crown,” “Lady Randolph Churchill,” “Jane Eyre,” and “The Black Tower.” In 1997 she played the mother to her daughter Vanessa in “Deja Vu.”
Her memoir “Life Among the Redgraves” was published in 1986.
In addition to her children and three thesping grandchildren, she is survived by seven other grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.