Dame Judith Olivia “Judi” Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA (born 9 December 1934) is an English film, stage and television actress.
Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She branched into film work, and won a BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer; however, most of her work during this period was in theatre. Not generally known as a singer, she drew strong reviews for her leading role in the musical Cabaret in 1968.
During the next two decades, she established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. In television, she achieved success during this period, in the series A Fine Romance from 1981 until 1984 and in 1992 began a continuing role in the television romantic comedy series As Time Goes By.
Her film appearances were infrequent until she was cast as M in GoldenEye (1995), a role she has played in each James Bond film since. She received several notable film awards for her role as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown (1997), and has since been acclaimed for her work in such films as Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal (2006), and the television production The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2001).
Dench has received many award nominations for her acting in theatre, film and television; her awards include ten BAFTAs, (including theBafta Fellowship in 2001) seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and aTony Award. In June 2011, she received a fellowship from the British Film Institute (BFI).
She was married to actor Michael Williams from 1971 until his death in 2001. They are the parents of actress Finty Williams.
Dench was born in Heworth, York, England, the daughter of Eleanora Olave (née Jones), a native of Dublin, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor who met Judi's mother while studying medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. Dench attended The Mount School, a Quaker Independent Secondary school in York, and became a Quaker. Her brothers, one of whom is actor Jeffery Dench, were born in Tyldesley, Lancashire. Notable relatives also include her niece, Emma Dench, a Roman historian and professor previously at Birkbeck, University of London, and currently at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In 1971, Dench married British actor Michael Williams and they had their only child, Tara Cressida Frances Williams, known professionally as Finty Williams, on 24 September 1972.
Dench and her husband starred together in several stage productions, and the Bob Larbey British television sitcom, A Fine Romance (1981–84). Michael Williams died from lung cancer in 2001, aged 65.
In early 2012, Dench discussed her macular degeneration, with one eye "dry" and the other "wet", for which she has been treated with injections into the eye. She said that she was needing someone to read scripts to her.