Born May 11, 1892, Died May 22, 1972
One is always at pains to locate a reference to Margaret Rutherford
that does not characterize her as either jut-chinned or eccentric or both. But such, taken together, made for the charm of the woman. The combination of those most mundane of attributes has led some to suggest that she
was "made for" the role of Agatha Christie's indomitable sleuth, Jane Marple, whom Rutherford portrayed in four films between 1961 and 1964, and in a film cameo in 1965. Margaret Rutherford began her
thespian's career first as a student at London's Old Vic, debuting on stage in 1925. In 1933 she first appeared in the West End, at the not-so-tender age of 41, and had her screen debut in 1936, portraying Miss Butterby
in the Twickenham-Wardour production 'Dusty Ermine (1936)'.
In summer 1941, Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" opened on the London stage, with Coward himself directing. Appearing as Madame Arcati, the fake
psychic, was Margaret Rutherford, in a role in which Coward had earlier envisaged her and which he then especially shaped for her. Later, Rutherford would carry her portrayal of Madame Arcati to the screen adaptation,
David Lean's 'Blithe Spirit (1946)'. And not only would this become one of Rutherford's most memorable screen performances -- with her bicycling about the Kentish countryside, cape fluttering behind her -- but as well,
it would establish the model for portraying that pseudo-soothsayer forever thereafter. (As Noel Coward had Margaret Rutherford in mind for his Madame Arcati creation, so, it is said, had Agatha Christie Margaret
Rutherford in mind for hers of Miss Marple.) Despite Dame Margaret Rutherford's appearances in more than 40 films, it is as Madame Arcati and as Miss Jane Marple that she shall best be remembered.
Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Delightful British character actress who elevated the interpretation of sassy spinsters and dotty dowagers to a high art in her movie appearances. A former
speech teacher who studied acting at the Old Vic and began her stage career in 1925, Rutherford entered films as an already dumpy, frumpy middle-aged woman in Dusty Ermine (1936). In no time at all, she mastered the
technique of screen acting and was a champion scene-stealer by the time she got the plum role of the eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, in Blithe Spirit (1945). Rutherford could always be counted upon for a deft comedy
performance, and she was ideally cast as Agatha Christie's spinster sleuth, Miss Marple, in four 1960s whodunits: Murder, She Said (1961), Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Ahoy and Murder Most Foul (both 1964). She
won an Oscar for her supporting role in The V.I.P.s (1963).
OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1940: Quiet Wedding 1943: The Yellow Canary 1946: Meet Me at Dawn 1948: Miranda 1949: Passport to Pimlico 1950: The Happiest Days
of Your Life 1951: The Magic Box 1952: Miss Robin Hood, The Importance of Being Earnest 1953: Innocents in Paris 1954: Aunt Clara 1955: An Alligator Named Daisy 1957: The Smallest Show on Earth 1959: I'm All Right Jack
1961: On the Double 1963: The Mouse on the Moon 1966: The Alphabet Murders, Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff 1967: A Countess From Hong Kong, The Wacky World of Mother Goose (voice only); 1969:Arabella