British Actress Receives Oscar Belatedly
LONDON (AP) _ Dame Peggy Ashcroft, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in ″A Passage To India,″ received her Academy Award on Tuesday - eight days after the awards ceremony.
″I never thought I was subject matter for an Oscar. How wonderful to be given it,″ said Miss Ashcroft, 77, who spent Oscar night in bed in her North London house nursing a case of the flu. ″I’ve been killed with kindness.″
The actress was handed the gold statuette by Sir Richard Attenborough, 1983 Oscar-winning director of ″Gandhi,″ at a luncheon to launch British Film Year at London’s Hilton Hotel.
″I’ve had wonderful flowers, telegrams, cards, and letters,″ she said. ″I’m knee-deep in them.″
The guests, including such stars as John Hurt, John Mills, and Alan Bates gave a one-minute standing ovation to the actress.
After a half-century in the British theater, Miss Ashcroft achieved international renown for her work in two film adaptations of novels set in India under British rule - ″A Passage To India″ and the 15-hour TV series ″The Jewel In the Crown.″
In ″A Passage to India,″ adapted from E.M. Forster’s 1924 novel, Miss Ashcroft plays the mysterious Mrs. Moore, a woman overwhelmed by the clash of cultures under the British Raj.
In the TV series, based on Paul Scott’s ″Raj Quartet,″ Dame Peggy plays an aging missionary fighting a loss of faith.
Her illness also kept Miss Ashcroft from attending the March 18 gala British premiere of ″A Passage To India″ and the March 26 funeral of her old friend and colleague, Sir Michael Redgrave.
She told reporters that she was receiving ″inquiries″ about further film work, but that her priority now was a vacation.
Aside from the present burst of screen activity, Dame Peggy’s film output has been modest.
She spent five days filming a small role in Hitchcock’s ″The Thirty-Nine Steps″ in 1935 and appeared in ″The Nun’s Story″ (1951) and ″Sunday Bloody Sunday″ (1971).