Corin Redgrave was a talented British actor who made his presence felt in all the three arenas of entertainment: stage, television and films. Born to actor parents, it goes without saying that Redgrave was born with an inherent talent for acting. He showed signs of turning into a fine actor early on. It was while at Cambridge that the seed for his acting career was sowed. He featured in a number of college plays and theatrical productions which allowed him to explore his artistic side completely. By the time Redgrave graduated from Cambridge, he had already gained wide experience in acting. Redgrave soon made his foray into professional theatre and earned himself prominent roles. He did several Shakespearean plays, such as ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Henry IV,’ ‘The Tempest’ and so on in his lifetime. He also found himself important roles in popular television series and television films. Redgrave’s acting career which spanned almost five decades saw him cap various challenging roles which he portrayed with great élan. He was also an active political activist of his time and perpetually supported far-Left political philosophies. He joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and even the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party. His death in 2010 brought an end to an era of Redgrave’s artistic dominance and political campaigns.
Childhood & Early Life
Corin Redgrave was born on July 16, 1939 in Marylebone, London to Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Both his parents were actors by profession. Redgrave was the only son of the couple; he had two sisters, Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.
Redgrave attained his formal education from Westminster School. He then won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, where he studied English. It was while in Cambridge that Redgrave’s future in acting was sealed.
At Cambridge, Redgrave followed the footsteps of his actor parents and actively participated in college stage productions. Within a matter of time, his mettle as an actor was established. His exceptional performance earned him loads of accolades. In Cambridge, he also explored his directorial skills.
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After graduating from Cambridge, Corin Redgrave pursued acting full time. He got into theatre and started taking up roles. Redgrave’s first role was as Lysander in Tony Richardson’s Royal Court production ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ in 1961.
Just as his acting career commenced, Redgrave became active politically as well. He supported the far-left politics and became a lifelong activist.
After appearing in Tony Richardson’s play, he essayed the role of a Pilot Officer in Arnold Wesker's ‘Chips with Everything’ in London in 1962 and in New York in 1963. He next appeared in a number of West End shows, including ‘Lady Windermere's Fan’ in 1966 and ‘Abelard and Heloise’ in 1971.
On the political ground, Redgrave joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament encouraged by his sister. In 1971, he joined the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party.
In 1972, he moved to Stratford. Therein, he clubbed with John Wood as the latter’s twin Antipholi in ‘The Comedy of Errors’. He was cast in several Shakespearean plays including ‘Much Ado about Nothing’, ‘Henry IV Part 1’, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, and ‘The Tempest’. He also starred in a highly successful revival of ‘A Song At Twilight’ co-starring his sister and wife.
Film & Television Career
In 1964, Corin Redgrave made his on-screen debut with guest roles in the TV series and films ‘Camera Three’, ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Crooks in Cloisters’. Early on in his career, he received critical and commercial acclaim for his role as Thomas More's son-in-law in the successful film ‘A Man for All Seasons’.
Towards the end of the 1960s, Redgrave made guest appearances in a number of television series including ‘Theatre 625’, ‘Mystery and Imagination’ and ‘The Gambler’. Other shows that he was a part of include ‘The Girl with Pistol’, ‘The Magus’, and ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’. He took the lead part of Sir George Grey in the New Zealand TV miniseries ‘The Governor’ in 1977.
In 1981, he played the role of a doomed Cornwall in ‘Excalibur’, followed by Worsley in ‘Eureka’. He then capped the role of a corrupt lead police investigator in ‘In the Name of the Father,’ a biographical courtroom drama film.
In 1994, Redgrave starred in the British romantic comedy film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ as Hamish, fiancé of Andie MacDowell’s character. His next role came in Roger Michell’s ‘Persuasion’ as Sir Walter Eliot.
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From mid-1995 to 2000, Redgrave appeared in British television programs, such as ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘The Vice’, ‘Trial & Retribution’, ‘Shameless’, ‘Foyle's War’, ‘The Relief of Belsen’, ‘The Ice House’ and the Emmy Award-winning telefilm ‘The Girl in the Cafe’, in which he played the prime minister.
Towards the end of his career, Redgrave featured in Stephen Poliakoff’s British thriller film ‘Glorious 39’ capping the role of Oliver. The same year, he was seen in the television film, ‘The Turn of the Screw’.
His last role in a feature film was in Adrian Popovici’s Romanian drama ‘Eva’ followed by his final screen appearance in the television series ‘Moving On’ in the episode ‘The Test’.
Corin Redgrave’s best stage role came in Tennessee Williams' ‘Not About Nightingales’. He played the role of a prison warden, Boss Whalen. His exceptional acting earned him a nomination at the Evening Standard Awards. The play was then transferred to New York where it was well received, earning him a Tony nomination. Other plays that he was a part of include the London production ‘The General from America’, Oscar Wilde’s one-man play ‘De Profundis’ and ‘Trumbo’.
Corin Redgrave first tied the nuptial knot with Deirdre Deline Hamilton-Hill. They had a daughter, actress Jemma Redgrave, and a son, Luke, a camera operator and production assistant. The marriage did not last long and the two divorced in 1975.
Following his divorce from Deirdre, Redgrave remained single for quite some time. In 1985, he married Kika Markham in Wandsworth, London. The couple was blessed with two sons, Harvey and Arden. Meanwhile in 1997, Deirdre died of cancer.
In 2000, Redgrave was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He suffered from the disease all through his later years. In 2005, his condition became critical following a severe heart attack but stabilized eventually.
Redgrave breathed his last on April 6, 2010 in St George's Hospital, Tooting, South West London. He was interred at Highgate Cemetery. A month after his death, his sister Lynn Redgrave passed away due to breast cancer.
Posthumously, his second wife Kika Markham's published a memoir of him ‘Our Time of Day: My Life with Corin Redgrave’ in 2014. Interestingly, in his lifetime, Redgrave too had written a memoir about his strained relationship with his father. The memoir was titled, ‘Michael Redgrave - My Father’.