Dench, Dame Judi (jōˈdē dĕnch) [key], 1934–, British actress, b. York, England, as Judith Olivia Dench. She studied at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, London, made her debut (1957) as Ophelia in the Old Vic's production of Hamlet, and subsequently played many Shakespearean roles. Dench also has exhibited her great versatility in dramas by Chekhov, Brecht, Noel Coward, Shaw, Pirandello, and many others, as well as in such musicals as Cabaret (1968) and A Little Night Music (1996). She won plaudits in David Hare's Amy's Way, both in the West End (1998) and on Broadway (1999). Though primarily a stage actress, she has appeared frequently on British television and in films— 84 Charing Cross Road (1987); the critically acclaimed Mrs. Brown (1997), in which she played Queen Victoria; Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which she won an Academy Award for her role as Queen Elizabeth I; Tea with Mussolini (1999); Iris (2001), a portrayal of the late years of the novelist Iris Murdoch; and Philomena (2013), in which she played an Irish woman searching for her child lost to a forced adoption. Dench began directing plays in 1988.
See her memoirs (with J. Miller, 2005 and 2011); biographies by G. Jacobs (1985) and J. Miller (1998).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.