By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times
12:45 PM EDT, May 14, 2012
Joyce Redman, a two-time Oscar-nominated Irish-born actress whose erotically charged dinner-eating scene opposite Albert Finney was a highlight of the bawdy 1963 British film comedy "Tom Jones," has died. She was 96.
Redman died Thursday in Kent, England after a short battle with pneumonia, said her son, actor Crispin Redman.
A veteran of the London and Broadway stage, Redman received her first Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for "Tom Jones," which starred Finney as the incorrigible 18th century English title character who has a series of amorous adventures.
One took place with Redman's bold and brazen Mrs. Waters.
As The Times' Philip K. Scheuer wrote in his review, Jones rescues Mrs. Waters, "beaten and half naked along the road." They wind up in a country inn, where they lustily dine in what Scheuer described as "a scene of gourmandizing that will go down in history.
"Eyeing one another steadily, saying nary a word, they stuff their mouths with dripping goodies in a rite that becomes the personification, even beatification, of sex a la carte."
Redman and Finney had appeared together onstage and they played the eating-as-foreplay scene just "for fun," Finney recalled in 2000 in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
"It was filmed early in the morning, and it took hours," he said. "They kept bringing more food – trying us out on different dishes. They'd say things like 'Bring more oysters. She's very good on oysters.' ... We weren't sure the audience would get it at all. It seems they did."
In a 1987 interview with Newsday, Redman said: "Wouldn't it be sad if that were the only thing for which I were remembered?"
The hit "Tom Jones," which was directed by Tony Richardson, won Oscars for best picture, director, screenplay and score.
"After 'Tom Jones,' I was offered all kinds of things, and I could have named my price, but the children were still pretty young, and no way could I leave them," Redman, a mother of three, had said in Newsday.
At the time, she was playing Henry Higgins' mother in a Broadway revival of "Pygmalion" that starredPeter O'Tooleas Higgins.
She received another supporting actress Oscar nomination for her performance as Emilia in the 1965 film "Othello," starring Laurence Olivier.
One of four sisters in an Anglo-Irish family, Redman was born in Newcastle, Ireland on Dec. 9, 1915, according to British media reports, and grew up in County Mayo.
Redman trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and debuted on the London stage in 1935.
She made her Broadway debut as Doll Tearsheet in "King Henry IV, Part II" in 1946 and created the role of Anne Boleyn opposite Rex Harrison's Henry in Maxwell Anderson's drama "Anne of the Thousand Days" on Broadway in 1948.
On television, she appeared on TV series such as "Vanity Fair," "Clayhanger," "The Rector's Wife," "Tales of the Unexpected" and "Ruth Rendell Mysteries."
Her last screen role was as Old Queen Victoria in the 2001 TV movie "Victoria & Albert." The cast included her son, Crispin.
Redman was preceded in death by her husband, Charles Wynne-Roberts, whom she married in 1949.
Survivors include her three children and five grandchildren.
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