Sarah Miles is an Academy Award-nominated English actress who gained fame for her performances in movies like ‘Term of Trial’, ‘The Servant’, and ‘Hope and Glory’. Perhaps her best-known performance will always remain that of Rosy Ryan in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. It established her one of the top movie stars of Hollywood at that time. Known for her sensual portrayal of characters, the English acting icon also proved to be a force to be reckoned with on stage. She captured the hearts of the audience and critics with her extraordinary performances in plays like ‘Vivat, Vivat, Regina’ and ‘The Silence of Lee Harvey Oswald’, to name a few. She was equally impressive on TV, albeit appearing in only a few guest roles on shows like ‘Dandelion Dead’, ‘Poirot: The Hollow’, etc. Sarah Miles struggled with the tag of a ‘sex symbol’ for the majority of her acting career. She is also known to have always been at odds with the media. Part of it can be attributed to the unique lifestyle that she lived. Additionally, becoming a false suspect in the murder of her obsessed manager did not make her a darling in the press either. It is fair to say that she is an embodiment of a classic Hollywood royalty.
Childhood & Early Life
Sarah Miles was born in Ingatestone, Essex, England, on December 31, 1941. Her father was John Miles and her mother’s name was Clarice Vera Remnant. She had three siblings, including brother Christopher Miles who is a director, producer and screen writer.
Sarah and her siblings were born illegitimate because her father failed to get a divorce from his first wife. Sarah is the great-granddaughter of Prince Francis of Teck from her mother’s side. This makes her a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.
She had a difficult childhood as she was born with dyslexia and often stammered. The former proved to be her biggest hurdle as it severely impaired her learning ability. It also lead to her being expelled from Roedean School and three others.
Acting came to her rescue when she was struggling academically. She enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London when she was 15 years old. This became a turning point in her life.
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After graduating from RADA, Sarah Miles made her official movie debut with the scandalously sexy role of Shirley Taylor in ‘Term of Trial’ in 1962. The movie was a massive hit and earned her a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Newcomer.
She was then cast as Vera in Harold Pinter’s film ‘The Servant’ in 1963. Her sexual allure and realistic portrayal earned her a BAFTA nomination in the Best British Actress category. However, the movie also had an adverse effect on her career. It established her as a ‘sex-symbol’. She found it hard not to be typecast in the roles of a “sexy young girl” after that.
Sarah’s acting talent was not to be denied and she proved her worth in David Lean’s film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ in 1970. Her role as Rosy Ryan earned her a nomination at the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1971. She also received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for this role.
In 1973, Sarah started shooting for ‘The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing’. Unfortunately, the shadowy death of her abusive manager David Whiting and her multiple extramarital affairs kept her under nonstop media scrutiny. Eventually, this led to the end of her marriage with Robert Bolt.
Her acting career took a nosedive after her divorce as she practically went on a self-imposed exile from Hollywood. In 1976, Sarah made an impressive return on screen with the film ‘The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea’. She was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Anne Osborne in the movie.
She earned a BAFTA nomination in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category for the 1987 film ‘Hope and Glory’.
In 1988, she was particularly lauded for her performances in the classic productions of ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, ‘Waiting for Godot’, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, etc.
Until her retirement from acting in 2004, she was also seen on the TV shows ‘Dandelion Dead’ (1994) and ‘Poirot: The Hollow’ (2004). She made a recent guest appearance in the movie ‘Interlude City of a Dead Woman’ (2016).
Apart from having an illustrious acting career behind her, Sarah is also a published author and her four books are: ‘A Right Royal Bastard’ (1993), ‘Serves Me Right’ (1994), ‘Bolt from the Blue’ (1996) and ‘Beautiful Morning’ (1998).
Family & Personal Life
Sarah Miles was married to the Oscar-winning playwright and screenwriter, Robert Bolt, from February 25, 1967, until October 30, 1975. They have a son together named Tom Bolt who was born on October 20, 1968.
His parents’ divorce and his mother’s lifestyle while he was growing up had an adverse effect on Tom, who became a drug addict. It took him several years to battle addiction and get back to his normal life.
In 1973, rumors began to float that Sarah was having affairs with actors Robert Mitchum, Burt Reynolds and her manager David Whiting while she was still married to Bolt. On February 11, 1973, Whiting viciously assaulted her when she came back after an evening out. Sarah asked for Burt’s help and Whiting was found dead the next morning.
Both Sarah and Burt were suspected of murdering Whiting, but the death was later ruled as a suicide in spite of some evidence pointing to the contrary. She remarried Robert Bolt in 1988 after he suffered a stroke. They remained lovingly married until his death on February 21, 1995.