Wanamaker, Zoe
Zoe Wanamaker

birth name

Zoe Wanamaker

birth date


birth place

New York City, New York, United States

death date

No information

death place

No information


Actress, Presenter

years active



Zoë Wanamaker CBE (born 13 May 1949)[1][2] is an American-British actress. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company; in films, including the Harry Potter series; and in a number of television productions, including a long-time role as Susan Harper in the sitcom My Family.

Early life and familyEdit

Wanamaker was born in New York City, the daughter of Canadian-born actress and radio performer Charlotte Holland, and American-born actor, film director, and radio producer Sam Wanamaker, who decided not to return to the United States after being Hollywood blacklist in 1952.[1] Wanamaker's parents were Jewish, though she was raised without religion.[3] Her family originated in Ukraine.[4] The BBC documentary Who Do You Think You Are? broadcast on 24 February 2009, revealed that Wanamaker's paternal grandfather Maurice Wanamaker (originally Manus Watmacher) was a tailor (born 1895) in Nikolaev in what is now Ukraine. Wanamaker was educated at the independent King Alfred School in Hampstead, London and at Sidcot School, a Religious Society of Friends boarding school in Somerset. She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[5][1] In November 1994, Wanamaker married actor and dramatist Gawn Grainger.[1]


Wanamaker's career got started in the theatre. From 1976 to 1984 she was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She won an Olivier Award in 1979, for her performance in Once in a Lifetime (play). Her stage performance in Sophocles' as Electra , for which she won another Olivier Award, was widely acclaimed. In 1985, she played Verdi's wife Giuseppina Strepponi in the original production of After Aida. She appeared on stage playing the part of Beatrice opposite Simon Russell Beale as Benedick in the Royal National Theatre's production of Much Ado About Nothing. Each of her appearances on Broadway has led to a nomination for a Tony award, including, in 2008, her performance in Awake and Sing!. From 19 May 2010 to 2 October (extended from 11 September), Wanamaker appeared in Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, portraying the role of Kate Keller at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in London.[6]

Starting in the early 1980s, Wanamaker began performing on screen, most notably in a number of critically acclaimed television productions, such as the BBC Television production Edge of Darkness; she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for her portrayal of the love interest of a suspected serial killer in the first instalment of the Granada Television series Prime Suspect. She played Madame Hooch in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Television series have included Love Hurts (UK TV series) (1992–94) with Adam Faith. She played Clarice, one of the dim-witted twin sisters of Lord Groan in Gormenghast (TV serial) (2000), a BBC television adaptation of Mervyn Peake's trilogy. Wanamaker has portrayed Susan Harper in UK television sitcom My Family since 2000. Wanamaker voiced a CGI character named Lady Cassandra in the Doctor Who episode "The End of the World (Doctor Who)" (2005), and reprised the role (also appearing in the flesh this time) in the episode "New Earth".


Wanamaker holds both American and British nationalities, having become a British citizen in 2000, specifically so that she could receive a CBE from Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, rather than an honorary decoration from the British Foreign Secretary.

Charity workEdit

Wanamaker has been a Patron of the UK charity Tree Aid,[7] since 1997. Tree Aid enables communities in Africa's drylands to fight poverty and become self-reliant, while improving the environment. In 2006 Wanamaker recorded a successful Radio 4 appeal for the charity. She is a Patron of Dignity in Dying, The Lymphoedema Support Network,[8] Youth Music Theatre: UK and of the Young Actors Theatre, Islington. She is also one of the Honorary Patrons of the London children's charity Scene & Heard.[9]
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