Thursday, 11 December 2014

Superheroathonic: Margaret Rutherford (Miss Marple No.1)

 Margaret Rutherford's life is one of those that you immediately exclaim 'oh WOW'.  It's unbelievable  that she survived to become a force of nature in her own right.

Margaret Rutherford (1892 - 1972) is probably best know for her film role as the very first Miss Marple.  Here's a great bunch of trailers of the Miss Marple films.  Margaret in a nutshell.  Agatha Christie actually dedicated one of her books to Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple!!!

Margaret Rutherford (1892 - 1972) is probably best know for her film role as the very first Miss Marple.

As Miss Marple she insisted on wearing her own clothes and refused to be in the films unless her very shy husband, Stringer Davis, performed too.  She married Davis when she was 53yo (waiting 15 years for his mother to die as she disapproved of Margaret), and played Miss Marple in her 70's.  What really gets me, and makes me admire her even more, is her sprightly and forthright manner in the films, and would you believe, canters along on a horse side saddle!  What a bloody trojan.  70 years old!

Before we get on to Margaret's incredible life, here's a little about her very close marriage:

Davis adored Rutherford, with one friend noting: "For him she was not only a great talent but, above all, a beauty."  (Quote from Wikipedia)

In 1963 Margaret Rutherford won an Academy award, a Golden Globe "The VIPs" also starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Disappointingly, Peter Ustinov collects the award for Margaret, I've actually got no idea why...

Anyway, here's her stunning personal life.  What a lady that embodies the old British saying 'stiff upper lip' and 'carry on'.

Her father was, at that time, from a renowned family and a well known journalist. One month after getting married, he had a nervous breakdown (now more generally understood to be post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD), and admitted into the 'nuthouse'.  At this time in London it was the Bethnal House Lunatic Asylum.  Yep, they really called it a 'lunatic asylum'.  Just the name is enough to send you running very, very fast in a diametrically opposed direction.  You feel like a bout of impending lunacy just from the very title.

Released from the care of the asylum to his family in 1883 he than proceeded to murder his father, the Reverend Julius Benn. By bashing his head in with a chamber pot no less.  Then he proceeded to slash his own throat. with a pocket knife at a Inn in Derbyshire.  Guess the maid got a bit of a shock that morning.   Apparently the knife slashing wasn't too successful and he was once again commited to an asylum, this time the Broadmore Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Bet that wasn't too nice.  After a seven year sojourn at the asylum he was actually, believe it or not, released and reunited with his wife.  Bet that made her day.

To become somewhat incognito, her father William and his wife, moved to India.  When Margaret was three she was returned to live with her aunt in Wimbledon, London, after her pregnant mother hung herself from a tree.

She'd been told her father was dead, so imagine her (elated?) surprise that he wasn't in fact dead, when she was 12yo. He later died in Broadmore Hospital.

Not surprisingly enough, as an adult Margaret had bouts of anxiety and depression, fearing that her parent's mental illness might be hereditary.

All of this material has been Sourced from Wikipedia.
Here's another good source on Margaret:  British Film Institute screenonline

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