One of the most prominent, ever-present, living glittering jewels of my cultural life died today at her London home. Although it wasn't too much of a surprise considering her age, now that it's happened it feels like a punch in the gut to have now lost the conspicuous feature that she was. .
I was fortunate enough to have seen her live three times on stage, first in Webster's 'The White Devil' in 1976, next in Andrew Davies' 'Rose' (1980) and then in Brecht's 'Mother Courage' (1990) - not 'The House of Bernarda Alba' as I'd posted earlier.
Her acting both on stage and on film was so consistently flawless it never failed to take my breath away. Two Oscars - for 'Women on Love' (1969) and 'A Touch of Class (1973) - and how can one possibly overlook her gloriously entertaining portrait of Mrs Tchaikovsky (that sex-crazed slut!) in 'The Music Lovers '(1971) with Richard Chamberlain also impressive as the mentally-tormented, genius composer - plus her numerous TV appearances, most famously appearing as Queen Elizabeth I in the 6 -part BBC serial of 1971.
A lifelong socialist, she turned to politics for about 20 years, entering Parliament on the coat-tails of Tony Blair, very soon becoming a scathing critic of him, though she was made a junior minister in the early 00s. However, her political life then became, unfortunately rather low-key and she became largely invisible, though when she did appear in discussion programmes on both radio and TV she was energetically vociferous with her opinions. Always strongly pro-gay, she was a beacon to many of us throughout the final decades of the last century when we were fighting for our equal rights.
I'd love to have seen her final stage performances - as King Lear himself, which she took to New York four years ago, but by then it had become clear that, even though she'd have wished it, she couldn't keep it up forever.
Now she's gone, probably my own personal favourite actress of my lifetime. Thanks very much indeed, Glenda. R.I.P muchly!