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Tony Richardson

Tony Richardson
Born Cecil Antonio Richardson
(1928-06-05)5 June 1928
Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 14 November 1991(1991-11-14) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of death
Resting place
Occupation Director, producer
Years active 1952–1991
Spouse(s) Vanessa Redgrave
Children 3; including Natasha, Joely

Cecil Antonio "Tony" Richardson (5 June 1928 – 14 November 1991) was an English theatre and film director and producer whose career spanned five decades. In 1964 he won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film Tom Jones. He died of AIDS-related causes at age 63 in 1991.


  • Personal life 1
  • Career 2
  • Filmography (as director) 3
  • Theatre 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Personal life

Richardson was born in Shipley, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1928, the son of Elsie Evans (Campion) and Clarence Albert Richardson, a chemist.[1] He was Head Boy at Ashville College, Harrogate and attended Wadham College, Oxford, where his contemporaries included Rupert Murdoch, Margaret Thatcher, Kenneth Tynan, Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert. He had the unprecedented distinction of being the President of both the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatre Club (the ETC), in addition to being the theatre critic for the university magazine Isis.[2] Those he cast in his student productions included Shirley Williams (as Cordelia), John Schlesinger, Nigel Davenport and Robert Robinson.[3]

Richardson was married to actress Vanessa Redgrave from 1962 to 1967. The couple had two daughters, Natasha (1963–2009) and Joely Richardson (born 1965), both actresses. He left Redgrave for actress Jeanne Moreau,[4] although the marriage he had anticipated never materialised. In 1972 he also had a relationship with Grizelda Grimond, who was a secretary for Richardson's partner (ex-partner, by that time) Oscar Lewenstein, and the daughter of British politician Jo Grimond. Grizelda bore him a daughter, Katharine Grimond, on 8 January 1973.[5]

Richardson was bisexual, but never acknowledged it publicly until after he contracted HIV. He died of complications from AIDS in 1991.[6][4]


Richardson's house, 28 Bingley Road, Shipley from 1928–48.
BFI plaque commemorating Richardson's contribution to cinema.

In 1955, in his directing debut,[7] Richardson produced Jean Giraudoux's The Apollo of Bellac for Television with Denholm Elliott and Natasha Parry in the main roles.[8] Around the same time he began to be active in Britain's Free Cinema movement, co-directing the non-fiction short Momma Don't Allow (also 1955) with Karel Reisz.

Part of the John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre, and in the same period he directed Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then in 1957 he directed Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice in Osborne's next play The Entertainer, again for the Royal Court.

In 1959, Richardson co-founded Woodfall Film Productions with John Osborne and producer Harry Saltzman, and, as Woodfall's debut, directed the film version of Look Back in Anger, his first feature film.

In 1964 Richardson received two Academy Awards (Best Director and Best Picture) for Tom Jones (1963). The prestige that lent him led immediately to The Loved One, during which he worked with established stars such as John Gielgud, Rod Steiger and Robert Morse working in Hollywood both on location and on the sound stage. In his autobiography[9] he confesses that he did not share the general admiration of Haskell Wexler, who worked on The Loved One as both director of photography and a producer.

The films of Richardson's mid-career had nothing in common beyond shrewd collaborations with very talented people. Among his acting stars were Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, David Hemmings, Nicol Williamson, Marianne Faithfull, Richard Burton,[10] Anthony Hopkins, Mick Jagger, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield and Judi Dench. His musical composers included Antoine Duhamel, John Addison and Shel Silverstein. His screenwriters were Jean Genet, Christopher Isherwood, Terry Southern, Marguerite Duras, Edward Bond (adapting Vladimir Nabokov) and Edward Albee. Richardson and Osborne eventually fell out[11] during production of the film Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). The basic issue was Osborne's unwillingness to go through the rewrite process, more arduous in film than it is in the theatre. Richardson himself had a different version. In his autobiography (p. 195) he writes that Osborne was angry at being replaced, in a small rôle, by Laurence Harvey to whom the producers had obligations. Osborne took literary revenge by creating a fictionalised and pseudonymous Richardson – a domineering and arrogant character whom everyone hated – in his play Hotel in Amsterdam.

Stylistically, Richardson's oeuvre was highly varied. Mademoiselle was shot noir-style on location in rural France with a static camera, monochrome film stock and no music. The Charge of the Light Brigade was part epic and part animated feature. Ned Kelly was what might be called an Aussie-western. Laughter in the Dark and A Delicate Balance were psycho-dramas. Joseph Andrews was a return to the mood of Tom Jones.

He financed the escape from

External links

  1. ^ Richardson, pp 1–5
  2. ^ Richardson, p.45
  3. ^ Adler, p.26
  4. ^ a b "The cursed legacy that still haunts Vanessa Redgrave". Daily Mail (UK). 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Richardson, p.233
  6. ^ Heilpern, p.142
  7. ^ David Parkinson, 'Richardson, Cecil Antonio [Tony] (1928–1991)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  8. ^ "Giraudoux Play on Television 'The Apollo of Bellac'", The Times, 13 August 1955
  9. ^ Richardson, p.163
  10. ^ Until dismissed by Richardson for repeatedly failing to show up on set as contracted (Richardson, p.212-3)
  11. ^ Heilpern, pp.346–51
  12. ^ "John Quine". The Daily Telegraph (London). 12 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Richardson, p.242. The surprise was not so much his expatriation as his choice of Los Angeles – he was more drawn to New York City, which he had loved ever since taking Look Back in Anger to Broadway. He rather despised the Hollywood life, as the quotation makes clear.
  14. ^ The proximate cause of the split was disagreement over casting a walk-on rôle. When Gordy directed cameraman David Watkin to shoot a scene with his choice, the crew went on strike. (Richardson, p.246-7)
  15. ^ Tony was actually fired by the author, J.B. Priestley, who took over directing himself
  16. ^ a b As Asst. to George Devine
  17. ^ Starring Paul Robeson
  18. ^ Also Nottingham, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh Festival
  19. ^ Starring Tallulah Bankhead
  20. ^ Also toured


See also

  • Adler, Tim (2012). The House of Redgrave. London: Aurum.  
  • Little, Ruth & McLaughlin, Emily (2007). The Royal Court Theatre Inside Out. Oberon Books.  
  • Heilpern, John (2006). John Osborne: A Patriot for Us. London: Chatto & Windus.  
  • Richardson, Tony (1993). Long Distance Runner – A memoir. London: Faber & Faber.  


Year Play House City Run
1954 The Changeling Wyndham's London 1 perf.
1955 The Country Wife Th. Royal, Stratford E London 3 weeks
1955 Mr Kettle & Mrs Moon[15] Duchess London
1956 The Mulberry Bush[16] Royal Court London
1956 [16] Royal Court London
1956 Look Back in Anger Royal Court London 151 perf.
1956 Cards of Identity Royal Court London
1957 Look Back in Anger John Golden, Lyceum New York ~1 year
1957 Look Back in Anger Moscow
1957 The Member of the Wedding Royal Court London
1957 The Entertainer Royal Court London 4 weeks
1957 The Apollo of Bellac Royal Court London
1957 The Chairs Royal Court London
1957 The Entertainer Palace London 6 months
1957 The Making of Moo Royal Court London
1957 Requiem for a Nun Royal Court London
1958 The Entertainer Royale New York
1958 The Chairs & The Lesson Phoenix New York 17 perf.
1958 Flesh to a Tiger Royal Court London
1958 Pericles SMT Stratford-on-Avon
1959 Othello[17] SMT Stratford-on-Avon
1959 Orpheus Descending Royal Court London
1959 Look After Lulu! Royal Court London 45 perf.
1959 Look After Lulu! New London 5 months
1960 A Taste of Honey Los Angeles
1960 A Taste of Honey Booth, Lyceum New York 376 perf.
1961 The Changeling Royal Court London
1961 Luther Royal Court[18] London 28 perf.
1961 Luther Phoenix London 239 perf.
1962 A Midsummer Night's Dream Royal Court London 29 perf.
1962 Semi-Detached Saville London
1963 Natural Affection Booth New York 31 perf.
1963 Luther Lunt-Fontanne, St. James New York 6 months
1963 Semi-Detached Music Box New York 12 perf.
1963 Arturo Ui Lunt-Fontanne New York 8 perf.
1964 The Milk Train...[19] Brooks Atkinson New York 5 perf.
1964 The Seagull Queen's London
1964 St Joan of the Stockyards Queen's London 3 weeks
1969 Hamlet Roundhouse London 10 weeks
1969 Hamlet Lunt-Fontanne New York[20] 52 perf.
1972 The Threepenny Opera Prince of Wales London
1972 I, Claudius Queen's London
1973 Anthony and Cleopatra Bankside Globe Playhouse London
1976 The Lady from the Sea Circle in the Square Theatre New York
1979 As You Like It Center Theatre Long Beach
1983 Toyer Kennedy Center Washington
1984 Dreamhouse L.A. Stage Co. Hollywood
sources: Adler; Little & McLaughlin; Richardson


Filmography (as director)

Richardson made four more major films before his death. His last, Blue Sky, was released posthumously and won a Best Actress Oscar for Jessica Lange.

In 1974 he went to Los Angeles to work on a script (never produced) with Sam Shepard, and to his own surprise took up residence there.[13] Later that year he began work on Mahogany (1975), starring Diana Ross, but was sacked by Motown head Berry Gordy shortly after production began.[14] Gordy took over direction himself.

In 1970 Richardson was set to direct a film about Vaslav Nijinsky with a script by Edward Albee starring Rudolf Nureyev as Nijinsky, Claude Jade as Romola and Paul Scofield as Diaghilev, but producer Harry Saltzman cancelled the project during pre-production.


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