Geraldine McEwan, Tony Nominee and TV's Miss Marple, Dies at 82

McEwan’s extensive career includes stage appearances on Broadway and the West End.

Geraldine McEwan, a stage and screen veteran who played Miss Marple on television, has died at the age of 82.
Geraldine McEwan, a stage and screen veteran who played Miss Marple on television, has died at the age of 82.
(© ITV)

Geraldine McEwan, the English stage and screen veteran who brought Agatha Christie's detective heroine Miss Marple to life on television, died on January 30 at the age of 82, following a stroke suffered in October 2014.

Born Geraldine McKeown on May 9, 1932, in Old Windsor, Berkshire, England, she was the daughter of Donald and Norah McKeown. She began her theatrical career at the age of 14, taking on a job as assistant stage manager at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. Her first appearance on that stage came in 1946, when she played Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her first West End appearance came in 1951, when she played the role of Christina Deed in John Deighton's play Who Goes There? Several West End roles followed before making her debut in the summer Stratford Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon, and she was a key player in the festival's transition to the now-storied Royal Shakespeare Company, taking on, among other parts, Beatrice (to Christopher Plummer's Benedick) in Much Ado About Nothing and Ophelia in Hamlet.

McEwan made her Broadway debut in 1963, starring opposite John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in The School for Scandal, a production that originated at the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Another Broadway appearance, the year after, came in a double bill of one-acts called The Private Ear and The Public Eye. It would be more than three decades until she appeared in New York once again, in a revival of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs, opposite Richard Briers, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination.

On-screen, McEwan appeared in a 1979 television version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and received a 1991 BAFTA for her performance in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. From 2004-08, she starred as Miss Marple in 12 television films, inheriting a role already played by Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, and Joan Hickson, and making it her own.

It was long-rumored (and never confirmed) that McEwan had turned down being appointed both an OBE and a damehood. McEwan married Hugh Cruttwell, a former teacher turned stage manager, in 1953, and they were together until his death in 2002. She is survived by their two children, Greg and Claudia, as well as seven grandchildren.