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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 13:45 GMT
Dame Judi's illustrious career
Dame Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench is one of Britain's most accomplished actresses and is no stranger to being feted by Hollywood.

The 71-year-old's best actress Oscar nomination, for Mrs Henderson Presents, is the latest chapter in a career which has spanned almost half a century.

She is already the recipient of a best supporting actress Oscar for her brief but commanding role as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love.

Full profiles of the main Oscars contenders

Another Royal performance - this time as Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown - resulted in an Oscar nomination in 1997.

Hollywood recognition

Dame Judi's portrayals of novelist Iris Murdoch as she battled the ravages of Alzheimer's and cranky Frenchwoman Aramande Voizin in Chocolat also caught the Academy's eye.

While Hollywood recognition has come relatively late in the actress's career, she has spent far longer being celebrated in her native country - and not only for her performances on the big screen.

A popular winner at the Bafta film awards, she has been nominated for Mrs Henderson Presents by the British Academy.

She modestly referred to the nomination as "very good luck", saying nominations were "just the luck of the draw. I don't know what sense it makes".

1957 - Lands first role after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama
1961 - Joins Royal Shakespeare Compay
1966 - Wins first Bafta film award for Four In The Morning
1968 - Makes her musical debut in Cabaret
1981 - Stars in ITV sitcom A Fine Romance
1997 - First Oscar nomination for Mrs Brown
1999 - Wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love
2002 - Wins Bafta best actress award for her role in Iris
2006 - Fifth Oscar nomination for Mrs Henderson Presents

Dame Judi, who was born to a family with acting connections in York, has won nine Bafta awards on previous occasions, her first in 1965 for most promising newcomer in the film Four In The Morning.

Other notable films she has been involved in include opposite Kevin Spacey in 2001's The Shipping News, The Importance of Being Earnest, and playing 'M' in the James Bond films since 1995.

But her comedic presence on the small screen has also garnered awards and become a well-recognised side to her talents.

She won awards for her role in 1980s sitcom A Fine Romance, in which she starred opposite her husband of 30 years Michael Williams, who died in 2001.

And while her profile in Hollywood was on the rise in the mid-1990s, she starred in gentle BBC comedy As Time Goes By.

Stage roles

Dame Judi, who was awarded the prestigious Companion of Honour last year, is also regarded as a first class stage actress.

Her debut, after completing her studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama, was playing Ophelia in the Old Vic production of Hamlet in 1957.

Dame Judi Dench as Elizabeth I
Best actress nominations from:
Golden Globes
Screen Actors Guild
British Independent Film Awards

A string of classical theatrical roles followed, while Dame Judi played Sally Bowles in the 1967 West End premiere of Cabaret.

It was much later that the actress won two Olivier awards at one ceremony for Absolute Hell and A Little Night Music in 1996.

In a recent interview, she confessed to never reading the plays she stars in, but takes roles "because someone asked me to".

Dame Judi is well-documented as shying away from watching herself on screen, and being modest about her talents.

"I don't know how you assess acting. It is so much about personality," she once said.

She has won the enduring respect of her fellow actors, including Kate Winslet, who said: "I would work with Dame Judi if I had to be a tea lady hovering in the back of frame."


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