Born: September 25, 1946
Birthplace: Olton, Warwickshire, England
Felicity Ann Kendal, CBE (born 25 September 1946) is an English actress, working in television and theatre. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen roles over a 45-year career, but the role that brought attention to her career was that of Barbara Good in the 1975 television series The Good Life.
Felicity Kendal was born in Olton, Warwickshire, England, in 1946. She is the younger daughter of Geoffrey Kendal, an actor and manager, and his wife Laura (née Lidell). Her sister, Jennifer Kendal (died 1984, aged 51), also became an actress.
After early years in Birmingham, Kendal went to India with her family at age seven: her father was an English actor-manager who led his own repertory company on tours of India. The ensemble would perform Shakespeare before royalty one day, and in rough rural villages the next where audiences included many schoolchildren. As the family travelled, Felicity Kendal attended six Loreto College convent schools in India, and contracted typhoid fever in Calcutta at age 17. She left India at the age of 20.
In 1975 Kendal had her big break on television with the BBC sitcom The Good Life. She and Richard Briers starred as Barbara and Tom Good - a middle-class suburban couple who decide to quit the rat race and become self-sufficient, much to the consternation of their snooty but well-meaning neighbour Margo and her down to earth husband Jerry Leadbetter (played by Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington). Kendal appeared in all 30 episodes which extended over four series from 1975 to 1978.
Kendal has stated that she can be "short-tempered and difficult" - which is in contrast to the generally cheerful, patient and upbeat character of Barbara, with whom the public have come to associate her.
Kendal made her stage debut aged nine months, when she was carried on stage as a changeling boy in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
She made her London stage debut in Minor Murder (1967), and went on to star in a number of well regarded plays.
Kendal's stage career blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s when she formed a close professional association with Sir Tom Stoppard, starring in the first productions of many of his plays, including The Real Thing (1982), Hapgood (1988), Arcadia (1993), and Indian Ink (1995). This last was originally a radio play and the role was written for her.
She won the Evening Standard Theatre Award in 1989 for her performances in Much Ado About Nothing and Ivanov.
In 2002, Kendal starred in Charlotte Jones's play, Humble Boy, when it transferred from the National Theatre to the West End. In 2006 she starred in the West End revival of Amy's View by David Hare.
In 2008 she appeared in the West End in a revival of Noël Coward's play The Vortex.
In 2009 she appeared in the play The Last Cigarette (by Simon Gray) and in 2010 in Mrs. Warren's Profession (by Shaw). Both played at the Chichester Festival Theatre and subsequently in the West End.
In October 2013 she toured the UK with Simon Callow in Chin-Chin, an English translation by Willis Hall of Francois Billetdoux's Tchin-Tchin.
In 2013 she starred in the first London revival of Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn at the Wyndham's Theatre. In 2014, she toured the UK and Australia as Judith Bliss in Noël Coward's Hay Fever, which then played in the West End.
In 2017 she will star with Maureen Lipman in a revival of Lettice and Lovage at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Felicity Kendal is an ambassador for age-positive charity Royal Voluntary Service, previously known as WRVS.
Kendal has appeared in many television series (both before and after The Good Life), including:
From 1976, Kendal has appeared as herself in about 40 television shows and documentaries, the most recent being:
Kendal's film roles are:
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Kendal was made a CBE in 1995 for services to drama.
In 1995 (at age 49) Kendal was selected as one of the "100 sexiest women in the world" by FHM magazine.
Kendal's first marriage to Drewe Henley (1968 to 1979) and her second to Michael Rudman (1983 to 1990) ended in divorce. Kendal has two sons: Charley, from her marriage to Henley, and Jacob, from her marriage to Rudman. In 1991 she left Rudman, and subsequently started a relationship with playwright Tom Stoppard. The affair with Stoppard ended in 1998, and Kendal has since reunited with Michael Rudman.
Kendal was brought up as a Catholic. She converted to Judaism at the time of her second marriage, and has stated about the conversion, "I felt I was returning to my roots". Her conversion took more than three years; she has stated that her decision to convert had "nothing to do" with her husband.
In 1998 Kendal published a book of memoirs titled White Cargo.
When asked (by The Guardian in 2010) whom she would invite to her "dream dinner party", Kendal replied "Emmeline Pankhurst, Gandhi, Byron, Eddie Izzard, George Bernard Shaw, Golda Meir, and Marlene Dietrich".