25 Facts About Virginia McKenna


Dame Virginia Anne McKenna was born on 7 June 1931 and is a British stage and screen actress, author, animal rights activist, and wildlife campaigner.


Virginia McKenna is best known for the films A Town Like Alice, Carve Her Name with Pride, Born Free, and Ring of Bright Water, as well as her work with the Born Free Foundation.


Virginia McKenna spent six years in South Africa before returning to the school at the age of fourteen, after which she attended the Central School of Speech and Drama, at that time based at the Royal Albert Hall, London.


Aged 19, Virginia McKenna spent six months at Dundee Repertory Theatre.


Virginia McKenna worked on stage in London's West End theatre, making her debut in Penny for a Song.


Virginia McKenna attracted attention on TV appearing in Winter's Tale with John Gielgud and Shout Aloud Salvation.


Virginia McKenna had a small role in the popular war film The Cruel Sea and a better part in the low budget comedy The Oracle.


Virginia McKenna received excellent reviews for her stage performance in The River Line.


Virginia McKenna returned to films with Simba, a drama about the Mau Mau, playing Dirk Bogarde's love interest.


Virginia McKenna has all the qualities of a young Bergman and a young Katharine Hepburn.


Virginia McKenna was given the lead role in the war time drama A Town Like Alice, opposite Peter Finch.


The movie was a big hit at the box office and Virginia McKenna won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress for her performance.


Travers and Virginia McKenna received an offer to go to Hollywood to appear in The Barretts of Wimpole Street.


Travers played Robert Browning and Virginia McKenna had the support part of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sister.


Virginia McKenna had another hit with Carve Her Name with Pride, playing Second World War SOE agent Violette Szabo.


Virginia McKenna was nominated for another BAFTA Award and was voted the fifth most popular British star of 1958.


Virginia McKenna was in an adaptation of A Passage to India for the BBC in 1965.


Virginia McKenna is best remembered for her 1966 role as Joy Adamson in the true-life film Born Free for which she received a nomination for a Golden Globe.


Virginia McKenna and Travers starred in another animal-themed story, Ring of Bright Water, but it failed to match Born Free's success.


In 1984 Virginia McKenna was involved with a protest against the poor conditions at Southampton Zoo which was closed a year later.


Virginia McKenna occasionally acted in films, notably Waterloo, Swallows and Amazons, The Gathering Storm, and Beauty and the Beast.


Virginia McKenna has been responsible for helping create and furnish the Gavin Maxwell Museum on Eilean Ban, the last island home of Maxwell, an author and naturalist, most famous for his book Ring of Bright Water.


Virginia McKenna is still actively involved at Born Free Foundational a Trustee.


Virginia McKenna was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2004 New Year Honours for services to wildlife and the arts and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to wildlife conservation and wild animal welfare.


Virginia McKenna is a patron of Cinnamon Trust, a national charity that helps elderly people to keep their pets.