Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith on December 28, 1934 in Ilford, Essex, England.
She changed her name to "Maggie" as there was already a Margaret Smith working as an actress when she started out in the profession.
Her Scottish mother, Margaret Hutton, worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith was a teacher at Oxford University.
Maggie Smith's career began at the Oxford Playhouse in the 1950's.
She made her film debut in 1956 in Child in the House.
Since then she has been in over sixty films and television series.
She has been nominated for an Oscar six times and won twice (for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and California Suite).
She is one of only six actresses to have won the Academy Award in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
She is also one of only twelve actresses to have won the "Triple Crown of Acting" which means she has an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy.
"I've won two Oscars and I still don't begin to understand film acting."
She has been married twice. She married actor Robert Stephens but they divorced in 1974.
She then married playwright Beverley Cross and they were married until his death in 1999.
"I still miss him so much it's ridiculous. People say it gets better but it doesn't. It just gets different, that's all. Even in my dream I kept saying to him, 'You are dead. You can't be here'"
She had two sons with her first husband.
(You may know Toby from playing Rochester in the 2006 Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre.)
Maggie has been conferred with honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Bath, University of St. Andrews, and the University of Cambridge.
She was one of the first people to have a star on the Avenue of Stars - a British version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seven other Harry Potter actors also have one.
In 1990, she was appointed Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire.
in 2014, she was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.
Maggie Smith battled cancer while filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
"It's true I don't tolerate fools, but then they don't tolerate me, so I am spiky. Maybe that's why I'm quite good at playing spiky elderly ladies."
With Dame Maggie Smith there are just too many good roles to mention!
But my two very favorite are, of course:
1. Harry Potter
The character of Professor McGonagall is one of my favorites and Dame Maggie really brought her to life. She is extraordinary in this role.
Daniel Radcliffe said, "I worked with her on David Copperfield and then she came on to Potter as McGonagall and said to the director: 'You need to audition this boy'. So I kind of owe her everything, so to Maggie I just say my fairy grandmother."
2. Downton Abbey
She is so perfect as the Dowager Countess!
I can't imagine anyone else playing this character better. She handles the wit and sarcasm with just the right amount of snark and sophistication.
*Do you have a favorite Dame Maggie Smith movie or tv show?