Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Lynn Redgrave

In a 1967 cover story, TIME wrote that Lynn Redgrave's "eyes look out between the lashes with a wonderful sparkling sanity." The actress, who died May 2 at 67 following years of living with breast cancer, never lost that vivacious quality.

Part of the Redgrave acting dynasty — she was the youngest of Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson's three children — she made her screen debut as a barmaid in Tom Jones and at 23 hit it big as the lead in Georgy Girl. The part of a chubby, sweet young woman out of place in the swinging '60s earned her an Oscar nod for Best Actress. Among her fellow nominees was older sister Vanessa.

More than 30 years later, Redgrave was nominated again, this time for her supporting role as the housekeeper to Ian McKellen's Frankenstein film director James Whale in Gods and Monsters. Over the years, Redgrave made sporadic appearances in film (including Shine and Kinsey), television and theater, her first professional home.

As a member of London's National Theatre, she worked alongside legends such as Laurence Olivier and Noël Coward. Over her nearly 50-year stage career, Redgrave scored multiple Tony nominations and managed to find an outlet for personal reflection with her 1993 autobiographical one-woman show Shakespeare for My Father, one of several plays she wrote about her thespian-packed family. Despite her lofty background, Redgrave was ever down to earth and unafraid to share.

In every performance, her honesty was as evident as her talent, and though she took on many characters, Redgrave never hid behind a mask. On May 4, Broadway dimmed its lights in her honor. But the sparkle remains.

Alexandra Silver

This text originally appeared in the May 17, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine.