Dame Margaret Natalie "Maggie" Smith, CH, DBE (born 28 December 1934) is a very prolific English actress. She made her stage debut in 1952 and has had an extensive, varied career in stage, film and television spanning over sixty years. She has appeared in over 50 films and is one of Britain's most recognizable actresses. In 1990, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the performing arts. Maggie Smith
Smith began her career on stage at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952 and made her Broadway debut in New Faces of 56. For her work on the London stage, she has won a record five Best Actress Evening Standard Awards, for The Private Ear and the Public Eye (1962), Hedda Gabler (1970), Virginia (1981), The Way of the World (1984) and Three Tall Women (1994). In New York City, she received three Tony Award nominations, for Private Lives (1975), Night and Day (1979) and Lettice and Lovage (1990). For the latter, she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Play.
On screen, she first drew praise for the 1958 crime film Nowhere To Go, for which she received her first BAFTA Award nomination. Her 1965 film role as Desdemona, in William Shakespeare's Othello, earned her an Academy Award nomination (the first of her six) and a Golden Globe nomination. Since then Smith has worked consistently in film, television and stage.
Smith has won two Academy Awards, winning Best Actress for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Best Supporting Actress for California Suite. She is one of only six actresses to win the Academy Award in both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Other notable films include Travels with My Aunt (1972), Death On The Nile (1978), Evil Under the Sun (1982), A Private Function (1984), A Room with a View (1986), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987), Gosford Park (2001) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012). She appeared in such films as Clash of the Titans (1981), Hook (1991), both Sister Act films (1992-93), The First Wives Club (1996), and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the highly successful Harry Potter film series (2001-2011). She starred as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey, for which she has won a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards and two consecutive Emmy awards.
She has won numerous awards for her acting in theatre, film and television; including seven BAFTA Awards (five competitive awards and two special awards including the BAFTA Fellowship in 1996), two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Tony Award, and an Honorary Olivier Award. Smith is one of the few actresses to have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting. In September 2012, she was awarded the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Legacy Award, which she accepted from Christopher Plummer, who presented it to her in a ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
She is the mother of actors Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin.