Lapotaire, Jane (Elizabeth Marie) 1944-

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LAPOTAIRE, Jane (Elizabeth Marie) 1944-

PERSONAL: Born December 26, 1944, in Ipswich, Suffolk, England; daughter of Louise Elise (Burgess) Lapotaire; stepdaughter of Yves Lapotaire (in the oil industry); married Oliver Wood, 1965 (divorced, 1967); married Roland Joffe (a film director), 1974 (divorced, 1982); companion of Ger Franklin (a retired schoolteacher); children: (second marriage) Rowan (a screenwriter).

ADDRESSES: Home—Warwickshire, England. Agent—c/o Storm Artists Management Limited, 47 Brewer Street, First Floor, London W1F 9UF, England.

CAREER: Actress and author. Actress in stage productions, including (as Ruby Birtle) When We Are Married, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Bristol, England, 1965; (as Vivie) Mrs. Warren's Profession, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-67; (as Natasha) War and Peace, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-67; (as Ruth) The Homecoming, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1965-67; (as Judith) The Dance of Death, National Theatre, London, England, 1967; (as Antoinette) A Flea in Her Ear, National Theatre, 1967; (as Mincing, later Mrs. Fainall) The Way of the World, National Theatre, 1969; (as Tania) Macrune's Guevara, National Theatre, 1969; (as Zanche) The White Devil, National Theatre, 1969; (as Don Quixote's niece) The Travails of Sancho Panza, National Theatre, 1969; (as Jessica) The Merchant of Venice, National Theatre, 1970; (as Zerbinetta) Scapino, Young Vic Theatre, London, 1970-71; (as Katherina) The Taming of the Shrew, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-71; (as Jocasta) Oedipus, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-71; (as Isabella) Measure for Measure, Young Vic Theatre, 1970-71; (as Lieschen) The Captain of Koepenick, National Theatre, 1971; (as Lady Macduff) Macbeth, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1974; (as Sonya) Uncle Vanya, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1974; (as Rosalind) As You Like It, Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham, England, then Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1975; (as Viola) Twelfth Night, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, England, then Aldwych Theatre, London, 1975; (as Vera) A Month in the Country, Royal Shakespeare Company, Albery Theatre, London, 1975; (as Lucy Honeychurch) A Room with a View, Royal Shakespeare Company, Albery Theatre, 1975; (as Rosalind) As You Like It, Riverside Studios, London, 1976; (as title role) The Duchess of Malfi, Bristol Old Vic Theatre, 1976; (as Rosaline) Love's Labour's Lost, Stratford, 1978 then Aldwych Theatre, 1979; (as Edith Piaf) Piaf, Other Place Theatre, London, later Plymouth Theatre, New York, NY, 1981; (as Eileen) Kick for Touch, National Theatre, 1983; (as Belvidera) Venice Preserv'd, National Theatre, 1984; Antigone, National Theatre, 1984; (as title role) Saint Joan, Compass Company, 1985; Double Double, Fortune Theatre, London, 1986; Misalliance, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1986; Archbishop's Ceiling, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1986; Greenland, Royal Court Theatre, London, 1988; (as Joy Davidman) Shadowlands, Queen's Theatre, London, 1989-1990; (as Gertrude) Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, London, 1992; (as Mrs. Alving) Ghosts, Royal Shakespeare Company, Other Place Theatre, Stratford, 1993; (as Callas) Callas, Malvern Festival Theatres, 1999; and (as Rachel) Hannah's Shawl, St. Louis, MO, 1999. Appeared in one-woman poetry recital Heart to Heart, various cities, c. 2001-02. Actress in touring productions, including (as Katherine of Aragon) Henry VIII (also known as The Famous History of the Life of Henry VIII), Royal Shakespeare Company, U.S. cities, 1998; and (as Maria Callas) Master Class, British cities, 1999.

Actress in television miniseries, including (as Empress Marie of Russia) Edward the King (also known as Edward the Seventh and The Royal Victorians), 1975; (as title role) Marie Curie, 1977; Playing Shakespeare, 1984; (as Letizia) Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1987; (as Clara von Trapp) Ain't Misbehavin', 1997; and (as Miriam) Arabian Nights, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 2000. Actress in television specials, including Country Matters, 1975; (as Edith Piaf) Piaf, syndicated, 1982; and (as Mrs. Solness) The Master Builder, Arts and Entertainment, 1990. Actress in made-for-television movies, including (as Irene Neumann) To Catch a King, Home Box Office (HBO), 1984; (as Louise Mackey) Murder by Moonlight (also known as Dark of the Moon and Murder on the Moon), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1989. Actress in television series, including (as Alienerd'Aquitaine) The Devil's Crown, 1978; Blind Justice, 1988; (as Diane Warburg) Love Hurts, BBC, 1991-93; and (as Martha) The Big Battalions, Channel 4 (England), 1992.

Guest star on television programs, including (as French maid) "Buried in the Cold Cold Ground," Jason King, 1971; (as Kristina) "The Contract," Callan, 1972; (as Cleopatra) "Antony and Cleopatra," The Shakespeare Plays (also known as BBC Television Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra), Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and Showtime, 1981; (as Lady Macbeth) "Macbeth," The Shakespeare Plays (also known as BBC Television Shakespeare: Macbeth), PBS and Showtime, 1983; (as Miriam Spencer) "Seal Morning," WonderWorks, PBS, 1985; and (as Madame de la Rougierre) "The Dark Angel," Mystery! 1987, PBS, 1991. Also appeared on other television programs, including (as Elisabeth Moulton-Barrett) The Barretts of Wimpole Street, 1982; The Captain's Doll, 1983; (as Claire) The Testament of John, 1984; (as Anouk Khoori) Simisola, 1995; (as Hilda Jacob) Giving Tongue, 1996; The Other Woman; and Stocker's Copper.

Actress in films, including Isadora, 1968; (as Lillianne) Crescendo, 1970; (as Charmian) Antony and Cleopatra, 1973; (as Christina Cunningham) The Asphyx (also known as Spirit of the Dead), 1973; (as Miss Prescott) One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing, 1976; (as Helen McCann) Eureka, 1983; (as Princess Mary) Lady Jane, Paramount, 1986; (as Olga Picasso) Surviving Picasso, Warner Bros., 1996; (as principal) Shooting Fish, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1997; and (as old woman) There's Only One Jimmy Grimble (also known as Jimmy Grimble), Pathe, 2000. Reader of audio books, including Pride and Prejudice, Dh Audio, 1992; Vanity Fair, Naxos Audio Books, 1997; (with others) An Ideal Husband, Penguin Audiobooks, 1998; (with Derek Jacobi) Shakespearean Stories, Delos, 1999; and (with others) Henry VIII, Penguin Audiobooks, 2001. Artist-in-residence and lecturer, Washington University, 1996 and 2003.

AWARDS, HONORS: Society of West End Theatre Award, Plays and Players Award, Variety Club of Great Britain Award, and Tony Award for best actress, 1981, all for Piaf; Variety Club of Great Britain Awards, for Shadowlands and Love's Labour Lost; honorary doctorates, Bristol University, 1998, University of East Anglia, 1999, and Warwick University, 2000.


(With others) Do Us Part (screenplay), 1982.

Grace and Favour (autobiography), 1989.

Shakespeare as I Knew Her (one-woman stage show), 1995.

Out of Order: A Haphazard Journey through OneWoman's Year (essays), K. Cathie (London, England), 1999.

Time out of Mind (memoir), Virago (London, England), 2003.

Also compiler of one-woman poetry recital Heart to Heart. Author of introduction, Audition Book for Young Actors, by Anne Harvey, Heinemann, 1992.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel for Virago.

SIDELIGHTS: For most of her adult life, Jane Lapotaire has been one of Britain's premiere Shakespearean actress. In 1967 she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, then led by famed actor and director Sir Laurence Olivier, and over the next few decades she acted opposite such stars of the theater as Olivier, Kenneth Branaugh, and Derek Jacobi. Lapotaire's acting career was interrupted by a brain hemorrhage she suffered in Paris in 2000, but as she recovered she slowly worked her way back into theater, albeit in smaller, less demanding roles than the eight-shows-a-week Broadway and West End starring performances that won her numerous awards in decades past.

In 1989 Lapotaire published her first book, an autobiography titled Grace and Favour. The book "brilliantly and chillingly evoke[s]" the story of Lapotaire's "troubled childhood," Jackie McGlone wrote in Scotland on Sunday. Lapotaire was a child of World War II, born to a French orphan living with a working-class foster mother named Grace Chisnall in Ipswich, England, in 1944. Lapotaire's mother disappeared when Lapotaire was six months old, and Lapotaire never knew her father, so much of her childhood was spent in the care of Chisnall. Then, when Lapotaire was twelve, her mother, now married to a French oil baron, returned and went to court to try to claim Lapotaire. Lapotaire chose to remain with Chisnall, but for her teenage years she spent luxurious but awkward holidays in Libya with her mother, stepfather, and stepsister.

Time out of Mind, Lapotaire's memoir of recovery after her brain hemorrhage, is "a classic of its kind, with a natural writer's rhythm and instinct for the mot juste," Corinna Honan wrote in the Daily Telegraph. Lapotaire found her recovery particularly frustrating because she looked perfectly normal: her physical and mental functioning was not affected, but her emotions were extremely fragile. Even while she was in intensive care, she recalls, she was shouting lines from the Shakespearean play Macbeth at the nurses who had to strap her hands to the bed: "They have tied me to the stake: I cannot fly." Yet despite the fact that she could still recall lines from her past performances, she could not control her anger. She lost numerous friends in the early part of her recovery, and even her relations with her only son, Rowan, became extremely strained for over a year. Lapotaire thought for a time that she was going crazy, because her doctors had not told her to expect such emotional fragility as part of her recovery. "It was like a horror film; I felt as if I had come from a different planet," Lapotaire told McGlone. Finally, she found a neurologist who helped her to understand and come to terms with her personality changes, and now by telling her story she hopes to help others who are going through similar struggles.



Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 37, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Halliwell, Leslie, Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion, 9th edition, Charles Scribner's Sons (New York, NY), 1988.


America, April 18, 1981, Catherine Hughes, review of Piaf, p. 329.

Back Stage, January 29, 1993, Roy Sanger, review of Hamlet, p. 41.

Birmingham Evening Mail (Birmingham, England), June 15, 2000, "University to Honour Actress," p. 26.

Birmingham Post (Birmingham, England), October 21, 1999, review of Callas, p. 14; August 22, 2001, Richard Edmonds, review of Heart to Heart, p. 14.

Booklist, March 15, 1993, Karen Harris, review of Pride and Prejudice, p. 1368; December 15, 1999, John Sigwald, review of Shakespearean Stories, p. 796.

Commonweal, February 14, 1986, Tom O'Brien, review of Lady Jane, pp. 84-85.

Coventry Evening Telegraph (Coventry, England), April 12, 2000, Mark Forster, "Actress and Artist Awarded Gowns," p. 10; July 14, 2000, "Honour for Star of the Stage," p. 2.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), April 14, 2003, Corinna Honan, interview with Lapotaire, p. 18; April 16, 2003, Jane Lapotaire, "I'm Terrified I'll Be Found Out," p. 16; April 17, 2003, Jane Lapotaire, "I'm as Lucky as Anyone Can Get," p. 20.

Financial Times, November 16, 1996, Martin Hoyle, review of Shakespeare as I Knew Her, p. 17.

Guardian (London, England), November 13, 1996, Lyn Gardner, review of Shakespeare as I Knew Her, p. 12.

Harper's Bazaar, January, 1981, review of Piaf, pp. 28-29.

Herald Sun (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), November 29, 2001, Leigh Paatsch, review of There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, p. 50.

Independent (London, England), August 24, 2001, Fiona Sturges, review of There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, p. 33.

Library Journal, November 1, 1992, Michael Adams, review of Pride and Prejudice, p. 133.

Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1983, Steven Reddicliffe, review of Macbeth, p. 8.

Mirror (London, England), January 25, 2000, Thomas Quinn, "Love Hurts Star Jane in Emergency Brain Op," p. 21.

Nation, February 28, 1981, Stephen Harvey, review of Piaf, pp. 250-251.

National Review, November 11, 1996, John Simon, review of Surviving Picasso, pp. 59-60.

New Leader, March 9, 1981, Leo Sauvage, review of Piaf, pp. 20-21; July 13, 1981, Leo Sauvage, review of Piaf, pp. 20-21.

News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), October 22, 1999, Lynn Daly, interview with Lapotaire, p. 18.

New Statesman, February 25, 1983, Benedict Nightingale, review of Kick for a Touch, p. 30; November 18, 1983, Paul Allen, review of Dear Anyone, p. 30; April 27, 1984, Paul Allen, review of Venice Preserv'd, p. 25.

New Statesman & Society, June 10, 1988, Betty Caplan, review of Greenland, p. 47.

Newsweek, February 16, 1981, Jack Kroll, review of Piaf, p. 82; April 27, 1981, Jack Kroll, review of Antony and Cleopatra, pp. 98-99.

New York, February 16, 1981, John Simon, review of Piaf, p. 64; August 27, 1984, John Simon, review of Venice Preserv'd, pp. 107-108; June 15, 1998, John Simon, review of Henry VIII, p. 52.

New Yorker, February 16, 1981, Brendan Gill, review of Piaf, p. 59.

New York Times, February 1, 1981, Cliff Jarh, "Piaf's Life and Loves Make a Musical," p. D4; February 6, 1981, Frank Rich, review of Piaf, p. 13; February 15, 1981, Walter Kerr, review of Piaf, p. D3; February 27, 1981, John Corry, "Fresh Faces Give Broadway Casts a New Look," p. 13; March 15, 1981, Harold C. Schonberg, "The Surrender of Broadway to Amplified Sound," p. D1; March 19, 1981, Walter Kerr, "When Truth Leaps off a Stage," p. 18; April 20, 1981, John J. O'Connor, review of Antony and Cleopatra, pp. 14, C19; May 6, 1981, Carol Lawson, review of Piaf, p. 18; October 17, 1983, John J. O'Connor, review of Macbeth, p. 15; June 8, 1984, Stephen Holden, review of Piaf, p. 21; August 1, 1984, Stephen Holden, review of Juliette Koka, p. C24; June 12, 1994, Vincent Canby, review of Ghosts, p. H4; May 28, 1998, Peter Marsk, review of Henry VIII, pp. B3, June 14, 1998, Vincent Canby, review of Henry VIII, p. AR4.

Penthouse, March, 1981, Marilyn Stasio, review of Blessed Monsters, pp. 50-52.

People, April 27, 1981, Gioia Diliberto, "From Piaf to Cleopatra, This Is the American Spring of Britain's Multitalented Jane Lapotaire," pp. 81-82; October 17, 1983, review of Macbeth, p. 9; March 25, 1991, David Hiltbrand, review of The Dark Angel, pp. 7-8.

Rolling Stone, October 3, 1996, Peter Travers, review of Surviving Picasso, pp. 77-78.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 12, 1998, Judith Newmark, review of Shakespeare as I Knew Her, p. C3; April 22, 1998, Judith Newmark, review of Shakespeare as I Knew Her, p. E3; April 11, 1999, Judith Newmark, "Jane Lapotaire Will Star in Schvey's Hannah's Shawl," p. C3; March 28, 2003, Jim Hanselman, interview with Lapotaire, p. E2.

Saturday Review, April, 1981, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Piaf, pp. 88-89.

School Library Journal, March, 1993, Evelyn Bender, review of Pride and Prejudice, p. 162; September, 1999, Barbara S. Wysocki, review of Shakespeare Stories, p. 166.

Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland), April 20, 2003, Jackie McGlone, interview with Lapotaire, p. 15.

Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), January 23, 1999, Jackie McGlone, interview with Lapotaire, p. 20.

Sunday Times (London, England), February 8, 1998, Clare Colvin, interview with Lapotaire, p. 22.

Time, February 16, 1981, T. E. Kalem, review of Piaf, p. 82.

Times (London, England), February 4, 1999, Iain Finlayson, review of Out of Order, p. 39; August 26, 2000, David Willoughby, review of There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, p. 8.

Times Educational Supplement, November 3, 1989, John James, review of Shadowlands, p. 33.

Times Literary Supplement, March 16, 1990, Patricia Craig, review of Circles of Deceit, p. 284; January 1, 1993, Martin Dodsworth, review of Hamlet, p. 16; December 13, 1996, John Fletcher, review of Henry VIII, p. 21.

TV Guide, October 10, 1981, John Simon, review of Shakespeare Plays, pp. 17-19.

Variety, January 21, 1981, review of Piaf, p. 114; February 11, 1981, review of Piaf, p. 126; June 10, 1981, "Amadeus, 42nd Street, Pirates Take Best-Show 'Tony' Awards; Lapotaire, McKellen for Acting," pp. 71-72; November 16, 1983, review of Dear Anyone, p. 74; May 17, 1989, review of Murder by Moonlight, p. 63; January 4, 1993, review of Hamlet, pp. 71-72; April 11, 1994, Matt Wolf, review of Ghosts, p. 162; September 1, 1997, Derek Elley, review of Shooting Fish, p. 78; March 16, 1998, Matt Wolf, review of Henry VIII, p. 75.

Wall Street Journal, February 7, 1990, Edwin Wilson, review of Shadowlands, pp. A14, A16.*