Maggie Smith facts: Actor's age, husband, children, films and career explained

15 February 2024, 16:13

Maggie Smith in 2017
Maggie Smith in 2017. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Dame Maggie Smith is one of the most celebrated and versatile actors of our time.

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With a career spanning over seven decades, she has dazzled audiences with her wit, charm, and talent on stage, screen, and television.

From her Oscar-winning performances in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and California Suite, to her iconic roles as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films and the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, she has proven herself to be a master of comedy and drama, as well as a national treasure.

The witty and versatile actor has been entertaining audiences for over 70 years on stage and screen. She is one of the most famous and prolific British actresses of all time, and has won many awards, including two Oscars, five BAFTAs, four Emmys, three Golden Globes, and a Tony.

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Maggie Smith started her stage career as a student at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952, and made her first appearance on Broadway in New Faces of '56. She became one of the leading British theatre actors, along with Judi Dench, working for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She was nominated for two Tony Awards for Private Lives (1975) and Night and Day (1979), and won one for Lettice and Lovage (1990).

She debuted on film in 1958 with Nowhere to Go. She won the Oscar for Best Actress for playing the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969, and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for California Suite in 1978. She was also nominated for Oscars for Othello (1965), Travels with My Aunt (1972), A Room with a View (1985), and Gosford Park (2001).

Some of her other famous films are Death on the Nile (1978), Hook (1991), Sister Act (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), the Harry Potter series (2001–2011), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), Quartet (2012), and The Lady in the Van (2015).

She has also appeared on TV, and became a global star for her role as Violet Crawley in the British drama Downton Abbey (2010–2015). She won three Emmys for this role; she had previously won one for the HBO film My House in Umbria (2003).

She has received many honorary awards throughout her career, such as the British Film Institute Fellowship in 1993, the BAFTA Fellowship in 1996, and the Society of London Theatre Special Award in 2010. She was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for her contributions to the Arts, and a Companion of Honour in 2014 for her services to Drama.

  1. How old is Maggie Smith and where was she born?

    Maggie Smith in 1962
    Maggie Smith in 1962. Picture: Getty

    Maggie Smith is 89 years old as of 2024. She was born on December 28, 1934 in Ilford, Essex.

    Maggie Smith’s parents were Nathaniel Smith and Margaret Hutton-Smith. Her father was a public health pathologist and her mother was a secretary.

    She had two older twin brothers, Ian Smith and Alistair Smith, who were both architects. Alistair passed away in 1981.

  2. Has Maggie Smith been married and does she have children?

    Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens in 1973
    Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens in 1973. Picture: Getty

    Maggie Smith has been married twice and has two children.

    Her first husband was Robert Stephens, a fellow actor, whom she married in 1967 and divorced in 1975.

    They had two sons, Chris Larkin and Toby Stephens, who are also actors.

    Maggie Smith and son Chris Larkin
    Maggie Smith and son Chris Larkin. Picture: Alamy
    Maggie Smith And Son Toby Stephens
    Maggie Smith And Son Toby Stephens. Picture: Getty

    Her second husband was Beverley Cross, a playwright, whom she married in 1975 and stayed with until his death in 1998. She also has five grandchildren from her sons.

    Chris Larkin has appeared in films and TV shows such as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Valkyrie and Official Secrets. He has been married to Victoria 'Suki' Steadman since 2005.

    Toby Stephens is known for playing Bond villain Gustav Graves in Die Another Day, Captain Flint in Black Sails, John Robinson in Lost in Space, and Poseidon in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. He has been married to actress Anna-Louise Plowman since 2001.

    Maggie Smith and Beverley Cross in 1994
    Maggie Smith and Beverley Cross in 1994. Picture: Getty