Santa Barbara in mourning

 By Joan Mac Trevor, Ciné Télé Revue, 1992

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She was for all of them their cherished grandmother, but also a strong woman respected : Judith Anderson, known for her role of Minx Lockridge in the soap Santa Barbara, died Friday, January the 3rd at the age of 93 years. In spite of her too rare appearances in public, she occupied within the profession a place envied of everyone. As well on screen as in private life, her matriarcal personality worthed her the friendships of all her fellows, from Cruz (A Martinez) and Eden (Marcy Walker), to Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille... because she was also a great (but ignored) actress of cinema.

Judith Anderson owes especially her fame to theatre. On all the scenes of the world, she interpreted the majority of the traditional roles, from Medea to Lady MacBeth by works of Tennessee Wîlliams and those of Eugene O' Neill. In the Seventies, Judith Anderson had even the audacity to play on stage the role of Hamlet of Shakespeare, usually played by men ! If she accepted the role of the mother of Lionel Lockridge (interpreted by Nicolas Coster), it was primarily due to the sympathy she had for the producers of the saga.  One of them remembers : "We had met during the shooting of Kings Row, directed in 1942 by Sam Wood. At that time, we teased her because she had not won the Oscar of the better actress for her role of Mrs. Sanders in Rebecca, the renowned movie of the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Much later she estimated than the eye of a camera was cold and impersonal. Nevertheless, she didn't hesitate to reconsider this opinion. Minx Lockridge had been born..."

Born in Australia, in Adélaïde, on February 10, 1898, the actress had exiled herself in the United States at the time of the First World War. Very quickly, she resides in Montecito, suburb close to... Santa Barbara. "The town exerted on her an unimaginable power of seduction", tells A Martinez. "I will not be able to forget the first day when she was introduced to all the actors", explains on his side a technician. She was there with her biscuit box and proposed some to whoever she met". Marcy Walker, who worked during several seasons with Judith Anderson, increases : "She was an exceptional lady. She always acted like a mum with me. When a scene appeared complicated to me, she left her cabin and taught me certain tricks of the job. I knew that she had been ennobled by Queen of England Elizabeth II. This title always impressed me."

It's at seven years old that Judith Anderson discovered her vocation. After having begun dance and classical music, she shone in theatre, in various dramatic roles. Rowland Brown was the first to call for her talents in 1933 in Blood Money. Thereafter she turned Rebecca (1940), Kings Row (1942), Laura (1944), And Then There Were None (1945), Specter of the Rose, Stage Door Canteen, Pursued, Tycoon, The Furies (1949), The Ten Commandments (1957), The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Cinderfella (1960), MacBeth (1960), Don't Bother to Knock (1961), A Man Called Horse (1969), Inn of the Damned (1974), Star Trek III : The Search for Spock (1983).

About private life, her relations were famous because tumultuous. Her wedding, in 1937, with an English professor was a real disaster. After the separation, Judith Anderson lived with a very famous man of theatre in the United States. Believing to have finally discovered the great love, she changed of mind very quickly, their popularity absorbing them too much... "Her only reason of living was spectacle", explains Nicolas Coster, alias Lionel Lockridge, her son on screen. "When I learned her disappearance, I knew immediately that I was going to miss her." Little time before dying, Judith Anderson still declared : "If I did not had the possibility of becoming an actress, I would certainly have committed suicide..."