Miriam Margolyes Biography & Facts
Miriam Margolyes ( MAR-gə-leez; born 18 May 1941) is an English-Australian actress, writer, political activist and television personality. She’s gained prominence as a character actor on stage and screen. She received a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993) and portrayed Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film series (2002–2011). Margolyes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours for Services to Drama.
After starting her career in theatre, she made her film acting debut in the British comedy A Nice Girl Like Me (1969). She has since appeared in Reds (1981), Yentl (1982), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Little Dorrit (1988), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Being Julia (2004). She's also known for her voice roles in Babe (1995), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Mulan (1998), Happy Feet (2006), Flushed Away (2006), and Early Man (2018).
Margolyes is also known for her television appearances including in The Diddakoi (1976), Blackadder, Cold Comfort Farm (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004). She's also known for her recurring roles as Prudence Stanley in Australian series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (2012-2015) and Sister Mildred in the BBC/PBS series Call the Midwife (2018-2021). She has starred in productions in both the United Kingdom and Australia, including her 1989 one-woman show Dickens' Women and the Australian premiere of the 2013 play, I'll Eat You Last.
Margolyes has spent many years dividing her time between the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy. She became an Australian citizen in 2013. She has also written two books, Dickens' Women (2012) and her autobiography This Much is True (2021).
Margolyes was born in Oxford on 18 May 1941, the only child of Joseph Margolyes (1899–1995), a Scottish physician and general practitioner from the Gorbals area of Glasgow, and property-developer Ruth (née Sandman; 1905–1974), daughter of a second-hand furniture dealer and auctioneer at Kirkdale, Liverpool, who later relocated to London. The maternal family surname changed from Sandeman to Walters before Margolyes' birth. She grew up in a Jewish family, with ancestors who moved to the UK from Belarus and Poland. Her maternal great-grandfather, Symeon Sandmann, was born in the Polish town of Margonin, which Margolyes visited in 2013. Her grandfather Margolyes was born in a small shtetl called Amdur (now – Indura) in Belarus, which at that time was part of the Russian Empire.Margolyes attended Oxford High School and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English. There, in her 20s, she began acting and appeared in productions by the Cambridge Footlights. She represented Newnham College in the first series of University Challenge, where she may have been one of the first people to say "fuck" on British television; she claims to have used the word in frustration on the show in 1963.
With her versatile voice, Margolyes first gained recognition for her work as a voice artist. In the 1970s, she recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook. She performed most of the supporting female characters in the dubbed Japanese action TV series Monkey. She also worked with the theatre company Gay Sweatshop and provided voiceovers in the Japanese TV series The Water Margin (credited as Mirium Margolyes).
In 1974, she appeared with Kenneth Williams and Ted Ray in the BBC Radio 2 comedy series The Betty Witherspoon Show.Margolyes's first major role in a film was as Elephant Ethel in Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977). In the 1980s, she made appearances in Blackadder opposite Rowan Atkinson: these roles include the Spanish Infanta in The Black Adder, Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol. In 1986, she played a major supporting role in the BBC drama The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She won the 1989 LA Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Flora Finching in the film Little Dorrit (1988). On American television, she headlined the short-lived 1992 CBS sitcom Frannie's Turn. In 1994, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).In 1989, Margolyes co-wrote and performed a one-woman show, Dickens' Women, in which she played 23 characters from Dickens' novels. In 2005 Margolyes hosted a ten-part BBC Four documentary, Dickens in America, which retraced Dickens's 1842 journey across the United States of America.Margolyes played Aunt Sponge and voiced the Glow-Worm in James and the Giant Peach (1996). She played the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). She voiced the rabbit character in the animated commercials for Cadbury's Caramel bars and provided the voice of Fly the dog in the Australian-American family film Babe (1995).She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets released in 2002. She reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). In a 2011 interview on The Graham Norton Show, in regard to her Potter costars, Margolyes said that she got on well with Maggie Smith, but rather bluntly admitted that she, "didn't like the one that died", referring to Richard Harris.In 2004, Margolyes played the role of Peg Sellers, the mother of Peter Sellers, in the Golden Globe winning film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.Margolyes was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked opposite Idina Menzel in 2006, playing Madame Morrible, a role she played again on Broadway in 2008.In 2009, she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Duchess Theatre in the West End.Margolyes voiced the role of Mrs. Plithiver, a blind snake, in the 3D-animated-epic film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010).
In 2011, Margolyes recorded a narrative for the album The Devil's Brides by klezmer musician-ethnographer Yale Strom.Margolyes played recurring character Prudence Stanley in the Australian-based TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries from 2012 to 2015.
In 2014, she voiced Nana in the Disney Junior animated series Nina Needs to Go!In January 2016, Margolyes appeared in The Real Marigold Hotel, a travel documentary in which a group of eight celebrities traveled to India to see whether retirement would be more rewarding there than in the UK. The series was reprised for two Christmas Specials The Real Marigold On Tour, from Florida and Kyoto. She narrated the 2016 ITV documentary about Lady Colin Campbell entitled Lady C and the Castle.In December 2017, Margolyes appeared in the second season of The Real Marigold On Tour to Chengdu and Havana. She appeared in the first episode of the third series, in which she traveled to St Petersburg with Bobby George, Sheila Ferguson and Stanley Johnson..... Discover the Miriam Margolyes popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Miriam Margolyes books.