Kendal in 2016
|Years active||1947-present (stage)|
|Children||2, including Charley Henley|
|Relatives||Jennifer Kendal (sister)|
Felicity Ann Kendal (born 25 September 1946) is an English actress, working in television and theatre. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen roles over a more than 50-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 youngest daughter of Laura Liddell and Geoffrey Kendal, an actor and manager. Her older sister, Jennifer Kendal, was also an actress.
After early years in Birmingham, Kendal went to India with her family at the age of 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, Kendal attended six Loreto College convent schools in India, and contracted typhoid fever in Calcutta at the age of 17.
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 and two specials from 1975 to 1978.
Kendal's stage career blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s when she formed a close professional association with 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.
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.
Kendal's first marriage to Drewe Henley (1968-1979) and her second to Michael Rudman (1983-94) 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, but they reunited in 1998.
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. Kendal's memoirs, titled White Cargo, were published in 1998.
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".
Kendal was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 New Year Honours for services to drama. Felicity Kendal is an ambassador for the charity Royal Voluntary Service, previously known as WRVS.
Kendal's film roles are:
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