Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Glenda Jackson

Introducing a sketch from The Morecambe and Wise Show last night, Penelope Keith explained- I suppose because it was thought necessary- that Glenda Jackson was once a very big star indeed. The sketch- featuring Jackson as Cleopatra- included a running joke about the Oscar she won for Women in Love.

Jackson belongs to that itchy and scratchy generation of post-war actors who found their chosen career unserious. Where many of her male contemporaries- like Peter O'Toole and her co-star Oliver Reed- diluted their talent with drink, she- like Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda- pursued a parallel career in left-wing politics. In 1992 she quit acting altogether to stand for parliament, trading stardom for a career of relative obscurity as junior minister and back-bencher, punctuated by occasional, high-profile, episodes of windmill-tilting. Had she stayed where she was there'd have been no need to gloss her name for a contemporary TV audience and Judy Dench's late career surge might never have happened- because who would have offered Dench those iconic roles of hers if Jackson- with two Oscars under her belt- had  still been available?

I refuse to say, "what a waste", because who knows what private karma Jackson needed to work out or what satisfactions she has enjoyed in her later life but it's hard not to regret the body of work she chose not to give us.
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