People, I am nothing if not a completionist. Of course we all know Barbara Leigh-Hunt for her legendary performance as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the 1995/BBC Pride and Prejudice. She seems like such a grand dame, but I admit I didn’t actually know her from anything else… until I watched Henry VIII and His Six Wives and boom, there she was as Catherine Parr! Ever since, I’ve been meaning to look her up and find out more about her career. I finally got around to it and this post is the result!
Leigh-Hunt got her start in theater, and it looks like she started acting in her late teens/early 20s (in the 1950s). Her first film roles were in 1972, and she seems to be best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy from that year.
I had to do some real sleuthing to find images of Leigh-Hunt in her various historical roles, and even some (like 1983’s Wagner miniseries) I came up with nada, even after skimming through the entire series on YouTube! Here’s what I could find:
A TV version of the Shakespeare play. Leigh-Hunt plays Lady Macbeth.
The Search for the Nile (1971)
A British miniseries about European explorers’ search for the source of the Nile in the late 19th century. Leigh-Hunt plays English explorer Isabel Burton.
Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
As a mostly-mute Catherine Parr in the feature film.
The Brontës of Haworth (1973)
A TV miniseries, in which the story of the Brontë sisters is narrated by later writer Elizabeth Gaskell (played by Leigh-Hunt).
The Nelson Affair (1973)
Aka Bequest to the Nation, a feature film about Admiral Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Hamilton. I’d love to watch this if anyone has a source! Leigh-Hunt plays Catherine “Catty” Matcham, and I can’t tell if that’s a real or fictional character.
A Perfect Hero (1991)
An RAF pilot is shot down during World War II. Leigh-Hunt plays “Iris Fleming.”
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
The classic, the ultimate, the best ever — Leigh-Hunt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh!!
Wives and Daughters (1999)
Leigh-Hunt is Lady Cumnor, the local aristocrat whose daughter plays a key role in two young sisters’ lives in this 1830s-set Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation.
Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)
As Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, who has some interactions with the future Queen Elizabeth (queen mother to Elizabeth II).
George Eliot: A Scandalous Life (2002)
Leigh-Hunt simply plays “Gossip” in this TV movie about Victorian writer George Eliot.
Vanity Fair (2004)
As Lady Bareacres, the aristocratic lady who is super snobby to Becky Sharp in this feature film adaptation of the Thackeray novel.
What’s your favorite of Barbara Leigh-Hunt’s frock flick roles, and why is it Lady Catherine de Bourgh? But really, have you seen any of these others? What’s your take?