6 Oscar winners with links to Hertfordshire

Make-up artist Mark Coulier's Oscar, which he won for 'The Iron Lady', and the BAFTA he won for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Make-up artist Mark Coulier's Oscar, which he won for 'The Iron Lady', and the BAFTA he won for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' - Credit: Danny Loo / Archant

It's the 94th Academy Awards ceremony tonight at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Here's six Oscar winners with links to Hertfordshire – from a legendary film director who made Herts his home to a famous playwright.


1. Stanley Kubrick - 2001: A Space Odyssey

Acclaimed American film director, producer and screenwriter Stanley Kubrick lived at Childwickbury Manor between St Albans and Harpenden until his death in 1999, aged 70.

The legendary A Clockwork Orange filmmaker made a number of movies at Elstree, including Lolita and The Shining starring Jack Nicholson.

However, his one and only Oscar triumph came for groundbreaking sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The movie masterpiece was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Kubrick the award for best visual effects. Kubrick lost out on the best director gong to musical Oliver!, directed by Carol Reed.

An information board in Borehamwood for Stanley Kubrick honouring his work at Elstree Studios. 

An information board in Borehamwood for Stanley Kubrick honouring his work at Elstree Studios. - Credit: Alan Davies

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2001 was made at the famous old MGM Studios in Borehamwood.

After moving to the UK in the early 1960s, Kubrick lived at Abbots Mead in Barnet Lane, Elstree, before later buying Childwickbury Manor in the late 1970s.


2. Olivia de Havilland - To Each His Own / The Heiress

Gone With The Wind actress Dame Olivia de Havilland in 1998. Picture: Rosie Hallam/PA Wire

Gone With The Wind actress Dame Olivia de Havilland in 1998. Picture: Rosie Hallam/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Two-time Oscar-winning actress Dame Olivia de Havilland was the cousin of Hatfield’s aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.

She was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in classic Gone With The Wind in 1940, losing out to co-star Hattie McDaniel, who played house servant Mammy.

Although she didn’t win for playing Melanie Hamilton opposite Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, she later won Academy Awards for best actress for both 1946's To Each His Own, and The Heiress from 1949.

Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister, and another cousin of Geoffrey de Havilland, was also an Oscar winner.

Joan Fontaine was nominated for an Academy Award for Alfred Hitchcock's romantic psychological thriller Rebecca in 1941. Ginger Rogers won for Kitty Foyle.

The following year, she won the best actress award for her role in Hitchcock's Suspicion, beating her sister in Hold Back the Dawn to the accolade.

One of the stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Olivia de Havilland was a guest at the University of Hertfordshire in 1997 for the unveiling of the statue of her cousin on the College Lane Campus.

The bronze statue to aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.

The bronze statue to aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland on the College Lane Campus of the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. - Credit: Alan Davies

A year later, Dame Olivia was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire at its degree ceremony held at St Albans Cathedral.

The Gone With The Wind legend died in 2020, aged 104.

At the time, the University of Hertfordshire tweeted: "The University is saddened to hear of the passing of Olivia de Havilland.

"We were extremely lucky to have her as a friend of the University, even visiting us in 1997 for the unveiling of the statue of her cousin, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland."

On Broadway, Olivia de Havilland also starred in Candida, a comedy by Ayot St Lawrence playwright George Bernard Shaw, also an Oscar winner.


3. George Bernard Shaw - Pygmalion

George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies

George Bernard Shaw's home Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies - Credit: Alan Davies

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who lived at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, is one of only two people to have won both an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize for Literature.

The writer of play Pygmalion was the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

The 1938 movie version of Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard as Professor Henry Higgins and Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle also won Bernard Shaw an Academy Award.

George Bernard Shaw's Oscar on display at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies

George Bernard Shaw's Oscar on display at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence in 2019. - Credit: Alan Davies

With screenplay and dialogue by George Bernard Shaw, and adaptation by W. P. Lipscomb, Cecil Lewis, and Ian Dalrymple, Pygmalion claimed the Oscar in the best screenplay category.

Pygmalion was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller) at the 11th Academy Awards in 1939.

George Bernard Shaw's Oscar for Pygmalion. Picture: Alan Davies

George Bernard Shaw's Oscar for Pygmalion. - Credit: Alan Davies

1956 Lerner and Loewe stage musical My Fair Lady was also based on Pygmalion, and was subsequently made into the 1964 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle.

The film version of My Fair Lady won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

And the other person to have claimed the Oscar and Nobel Prize for Literature double? Singer Bob Dylan.


4. Sam Smith - Spectre

As well as topping the UK charts with singles Money on My Mind and Stay with Me from debut 2014 studio album In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith also sang the 007 Spectre theme song Writing's on the Wall.

It became the first James Bond movie theme to reach number one in the UK, and won both a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar for best original song at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016.

You wouldn't expect an Oscar-winning global pop star to help a village celebrate the reopening of its restored windmill. But the singer-songwriter did exactly that in 2019.

They returned to Great Chishill, the South Cambridgeshire village just across the county border from Royston, Hertfordshire.

Sam Smith grew up in the village, and lived at The Pink House in Heydon Road. The singer also attended school in Bishop's Stortford, Herts.


5. Mark Coulier - The Iron Lady / The Grand Budapest Hotel

Oscar and BAFTA winning make-up artist Mark Coulier of Coulier Creatures FX in his St Albans studio

Oscar and BAFTA-winning prosthetic make-up artist Mark Coulier of Coulier Creatures FX in his St Albans studio back in 2015. - Credit: Danny Loo / Archant

St Albans-based makeup designer and prosthetic expert Mark Coulier is a two-time Oscar winner.

BAFTA winner Coulier won an Oscar in 2012 for his work transforming Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd’s biopic The Iron Lady.

He collected a second Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards in 2015 in the best make-up and hairstyling category for helping to turn Tilda Swinton into the formidable Madame D in Wes Anderson’s 2014 comedy-drama The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Oscar and BAFTA winning make-up artist Mark Coulier of Coulier Creatures FX in his St Albans studio in 2015.

Oscar and BAFTA winning make-up artist Mark Coulier of Coulier Creatures FX in his St Albans studio with some of his creations back in 2015. - Credit: Danny Loo / Archant

He shared this Oscar with Frances Hannon, with Reese Witherspoon presenting the award.

Coulier Creatures FX creates prosthetics for critically-acclaimed worldwide hits.


6. Glenn Freemantle - Gravity

Gravity picked up seven Oscars at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, with one of them going to a Harpenden resident.

Glenn Freemantle collected an Oscar for sound editing the hit Sandra Bullock and George Clooney movie.

After walking onto the stage to pick up his award, a clearly stunned Glenn said: “Wow, my heart is beating faster than Sandra’s [Bullock].”

His other sound designer film credits include Slumdog Millionaire and the Paddington movies.