One of Britain's most respected and popular actresses, Judi Dench can claim a decades-old career encompassing the stage, screen, and television. A five-time winner of the British Academy Award, she was granted an Order of the British Empire in 1970 and made a Dame of the British Empire in 1988.
Born in York, England, on December 9, 1934, Dench made her stage debut as a snail in a junior school production. After attending art school, she studied acting at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. In 1957, she made her professional stage debut as Ophelia in the Old Vic's Liverpool production of Hamlet. A prolific stage career followed, with seasons spent performing with the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. Dench broke into film in 1964 with a supporting role in The Third Secret. The following year, she won her first BAFTA, a Most Promising Newcomer honor for her work in Four in the Morning. Although she continued to work in film, Dench earned most of her recognition and acclaim for her stage work. Occasionally, she brought her stage roles to the screen in such film adaptations as A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968) and Macbeth (1978), in which she was Lady Macbeth to Ian McKellen's tormented king. It was not until the mid-'80s that Dench began to make her name known to an international film audience. In 1986, she had a memorable turn as a meddlesome romance author in A Room with a View, earning a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for her tart portrayal. Two years later, she won the same award for her work in another period drama, A Handful of Dust.