Dame Margaret Natalie Smith (born 28 December 1934) is an English actress. With an extensive career in theatre, film, and television over seven decades, she is one of Britain's most recognisable and prolific actresses. She is particularly noted for her wit in comedic roles.Smith began her stage career as a student, performing at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952, and made her professional debut on Broadway in New Faces of '56. Over the following decades, Smith established herself alongside Judi Dench as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. On the Broadway stage she received Tony Award nominations for Noël Coward's Private Lives (1975) and David Hare's Night and Day (1979), winning Best Actress in a Play for Lettice and Lovage (1990). Smith made her film debut in the 1958 film Nowhere to Go, and achieved international fame for her performance in the title role of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for the latter performance, and has also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, for California Suite (1978). Her other Oscar nominations were for her roles in Othello (1965), Travels with My Aunt (1972), A Room with a View (1985), and Gosford Park (2001). Other notable films include 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). Smith has sporadically appeared on television throughout her career, and gained newfound attention and international fame for her role as Violet Crawley in the British period drama Downton Abbey (2010–2015). The role earned her three Primetime Emmy Awards, which she has also won for the HBO film My House in Umbria (2003).Smith's other honours include five competitive British Academy Film Awards and several honorary acting awards, including the British Film Institute Fellowship in 1993, the BAFTA Fellowship in 1996, and the Society of London Theatre Special Award in 2010. Smith was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for contributions to the Arts, and a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2014 for services to Drama. Smith has also achieved the US Triple Crown of Acting – an Academy Award, Tony Award, and Primetime Emmy Award.