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Rita Tushingham
Rita Tushingham crop.jpg
Tushingham in 2008
Born (1942-03-14) 14 March 1942 (age 82)
Garston, Liverpool, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1961–present
Spouse(s) Terry Bicknell
(m. 1962; div. 1976)
Ousama Rawi
(m. 1981; div. 1996)
Partner(s) Hans-Heinrich Ziemann
Children 2

Rita Tushingham (born 14 March 1942) is a British actress. She is known for her starring roles in films including A Taste of Honey (1961), The Leather Boys (1964), The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Smashing Time (1967). For A Taste of Honey, she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress, and Most Promising Newcomer at both the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Her other film appearances include An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), Under the Skin (1997), Being Julia (2004), and Last Night in Soho (2021).

Early life

Tushingham was born on 14 March 1942 in the Garston area of Liverpool, where her father was a grocer who ran three shops. She grew up in the Hunt's Cross district of the city. She attended the Heatherlea School in Allerton and the La Sagesse School in Grassendale (which later became part of St Julie's Catholic High School) and studied shorthand and typing at a secretarial school. She wanted to be an actress from an early age and trained at the Shelagh Elliott-Clarke School before working as an assistant stage manager at the Liverpool Playhouse.


Tushingham's screen debut was in A Taste of Honey (1961). In 2020, she said of the film: "We shocked audiences without intending to. I only learned later that Paul and I did the first interracial kiss on screen. ... A lot of the reaction was, 'People like that don’t exist' – by which they meant homosexuals, single mothers and people in mixed-race relationships. But they did." A Taste of Honey was banned in several countries.

Other performances by Tushingham have included Girl with Green Eyes (1964), The Leather Boys (1964),The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Trap (1966), Smashing Time (1967), The Bed Sitting Room (1969), and The 'Human' Factor starring George Kennedy and John Mills (1975). She also co-starred as Margaret Sheen in the TV film Green Eyes (1977).

In the 1960s, Tushingham performed several plays for the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre: The Changeling (1961), The Kitchen (1961), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962), Twelfth Night (production without décor, 1962) and The Knack (1962).

Tushingham has won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award, and was a member of the jury at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival in 1972 and at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival in 1990.

Her later roles include the film Being Julia (2004), starring Annette Bening, and on television in "The Sittaford Mystery" (2006), an episode of Marple. She appeared in Season 2 of the BBC Three zombie drama In The Flesh as Mrs Lamb, broadcast in May 2014. In 2020 she appeared in the BBC One adaptation of The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie.


Clips from Tushingham's performance in The Leather Boys appeared in The Smiths' music video for the single "Girlfriend in a Coma", in 1987. She is also mentioned in the Franz Ferdinand song "L. Wells", the Cleaners From Venus song "Ilya Kuryakin Looked at Me" and the Television Personalities song "Favourite Films". In 1999, she was featured on This Is Your Life.

Personal life

Rita Tushingham 2006
London (2006)

Tushingham married photographer Terry Bicknell in 1962. They had two daughters, Dodonna and Aisha, before divorcing in 1976. In 1981, she married Iraqi cinematographer Ousama Rawi, spending eight years in Canada with him before they separated. They were not legally divorced until 1996. She later divided her time between Germany and London with German writer Hans-Heinrich Ziemann, her partner since 1994. As of 2020 she lives alone in London, near her daughter Aisha and her grandchildren.

In April 2005, at the age of 33, Tushingham's daughter Aisha was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recovered and later gave birth to a son. Tushingham subsequently became an activist for breast cancer health and support. She is a prominent supporter of Cancer Research UK's Relay For Life and has given a number of interviews to raise breast cancer awareness.

In July 2009, Tushingham received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for "outstanding and sustained contributions to the performing arts". In a 2020 interview, she described herself as a "lifelong football fan" and a Liverpool F.C. supporter.

In June 2022, Tushingham was the guest for BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Her choices included "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" by Ella Fitzgerald and "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel. Her book choice was Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and her requested luxury item was a photograph of her family inside a book of Matt cartoons wrapped in a mosquito net.



Year Title Role Notes
1961 A Taste of Honey Josephine "Jo"
1963 A Place to Go Catherine Donovan
1964 The Leather Boys Dot
1964 Girl with Green Eyes Kate Brady
1965 The Knack ...and How to Get It Nancy Jones
1965 Doctor Zhivago Tanya Komarova
1966 The Trap Eve
1967 Smashing Time Brenda
1968 Diamonds for Breakfast Bridget Rafferty
1969 The Guru Jenny
1969 The Bed Sitting Room Penelope
1972 Straight on Till Morning Brenda Thompson
1974 Fischia il sesso Carol Houston
1974 Situation Rita
1975 Rachel's Man Leah
1975 The "Human" Factor Janice
1977 Bread, Butter and Marmalade Vera De Virdis
1977 Black Journal Maria
1978 Mysteries Martha Gude
1982 Spaghetti House Kathy Ceccacci
1986 A Judgment in Stone Eunice Parchman
1986 Flying Jean Stoller
1989 Resurrected Mrs. Deakin
1989 Hard Days, Hard Nights Rita
1992 Paper Marriage Lou
1992 Rapture of Deceit Dora
1994 Gospel According to Harry Myrna
1995 An Awfully Big Adventure Aunt Lily
1996 The Boy from Mercury May Cronin
1997 Under the Skin Mum
1999 Swing Mags Luxford
2000 Out of Depth Margaret Nixon
2004 Being Julia Aunt Carrie
2007 Puffball Molly
2007 The Hideout Paula Hardyn
2008 Broken Lines Rae
2008 Telstar: The Joe Meek Story Essex Medium
2009 The Calling Sister Gertrude
2011 Seamonsters Rose
2012 Outside Bet Martha
2013 Wee Man, TheThe Wee Man Rita Thompson
2017 My Name Is Lenny Reenie Joyce
2020 The Owners Ellen Huggins
2021 Last Night in Soho Peggy Turner
2022 Boudica Green Druid


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Human Jungle, TheThe Human Jungle Joy South Episode: "The Man Who Fell Apart"
1973 Armchair Theatre Grace Episode: "Red Riding Hood"
1974 No Strings Leonora 6 episodes
1977 Green Eyes Margaret Sheen TV film
1980 Ladykillers Charlotte Bryant Episode: "Don't Let Them Kill Me on Wednesday"
1982 The Confessions of Felix Krull Mrs. Twentyman All 5 episodes
1984 Seeing Things Dr. Jessica Edwards Episode: "Seeing R.E.D."
1985 ABC Weekend Special Mrs. Prysselius Episode: "Pippi Longstocking"
1989 The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway Alice B. Toklas TV film
1988 Bread Celia Higgins 11 episodes
1998 Spending Nights with Joan Bette Davis TV film
2002 Helen West Margaret Mellors Episode: "Shadow Play"
2002 Stretford Wives, TheThe Stretford Wives Marilyn Massey TV film
2003 Life Beyond the Box: Margo Celia Fishwick TV film
2005 New Tricks Elise Episode: "Creative Problem Solving"
2006 Agatha Christie's Marple Miss Elizabeth Percehouse Episode: "The Sittaford Mystery"
2006 Angel Cake Millie TV film
2011 Bedlam Grace Episode: "Inmates"
2014 In the Flesh Mrs. Lamb 3 episodes
2016 Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories Effie Corvier Episode: "Feeders and Eaters"
2018 Vera Audrey Latham Episode: "Home"
2018 Still Open All Hours Annie Episode: "Christmas Special"
2020 The Pale Horse Bella Webb Both 2 episodes
2021 Ridley Road Nettie Jones All 4 episodes
2022 The Responder June Carson 2 episodes
2024 The Marlow Murder Club Mrs. Eddingham 2 episodes

Awards and honours

Year Award Film Result
1962 BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer A Taste of Honey Won
1962 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress Won
1963 Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer Won
1965 BAFTA Award for Best British Actress Girl with Green Eyes Nominated
1966 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (musical or comedy) The Knack ...and How to Get It Nominated
1966 BAFTA Award for Best British Actress Nominated

Tushingham was made Honorary Associate of London Film School.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Rita Tushingham para niños

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