Drawing: Francesca Annis in Versailles

Francesca Annis

The respected English actress Francesca Annis has a career spanning 7 decades, starting in her teens in the 1950s. Her distinguished career covers the complete spectrum from stage and screen winning a BAFTA (1979) for her portrayal of celebrated actress Lillie Langtry in he miniseries Lillie.

In the 1970s she became a schoolboy object of desire with her trademark voluptuous figure and deep, sultry voice. While attending Otago Boys’ High School in Dunedin, New Zealand, the junior school went to a screening of Roman Polanski’s film adaption of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, financed by Hugh Hefner. Giveaway clue. ¬†Francesca played Lady Macbeth, who delivers the notorious sleep walking soliloquy… naked. One of my more memorable educational ventures. Say no more.

Francesca has just completed her run in Peter Gill’s Versailles marking a centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. I met her at the stage door after a performance in the final week and she was delightful. A handful of collectors, coincidentally about the same vintage as I, were there.

Clothes did come into the conversation, but only after I asked her what project she planned to do next. “A lot of washing,” she laughed, and signed my sketch.

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