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Who's Who: "Special Case" Actor Biography
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Elizabeth Shepherd

Emma Peel, 1965 (never aired)

Image from Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse

by David K. Smith

Elizabeth Shepherd was born in 1936 and began her career in England, describing herself in that period as the "queen of the BBC mini-series." Her stage career eventually brought her to Canada in 1972 where she has lived ever since.

Her CV is quite extensive, having played the Shakespearean roles of Beatrice, Cordelia, Gertrude, Helena, Hermione, Isabella, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Portia, Titania and Viola. Venues include New York on and off Broadway, London's West End, the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic, and Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Halifax and Edmonton. Repertory seasons include the Bristol Old Vic, Nottingham Playhouse, Manchester Library Theatre, plus repertory appearances in Milwaukee, Seattle, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Dorset. Additionally, she has starred in dozens of films, and her small screen appearances number over 500.

Seemingly indefatigable, she is still very busy. In 2001 she gave the UK premiere of Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino, a one-woman dramatic presentation of the life of the Marchesa Luisa Casati, at the Italian Cultural Institute in London. The show was well received by standing-room-only audiences in New York City, Toronto, and London. (For more information, see the Portrait of a Muse website.) 2002 saw her as Miss Havisham in a new stage adaptation of Dickens' Great Expectations at The Derby Playhouse (Derby, England) and The Walnut Street Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), followed by Walk Right Up by Celia McBride at the Studio Theatre/Stratford Festival, Canada. And in May 2003 she guested on ABC's All My Children.

Her involvement with The Avengers was unplanned in its brevity. After filming all of "The Town of No Return" and part of "The Murder Market," it was announced that she was fired. There is no shortage of rumors as to why, but the consensus seems to be that she simply was not right for the part of Mrs. Emma Peel. Add to this an extravagant wardrobe, a tendency to rewrite dialog on the set, and a general lack of television experience, one might understand why the producers elected to take the costly and risky course of re-casting the part, and history shows that the choice of Diana Rigg was worth the risk.

In answer to one of the most frequently asked questions, it is unknown if any of the original footage of Elizabeth Shepherd as Emma Peel still exists. For a while rumors were circulating that Canal+ still had some in their vaults, but there has been no official word one way or the other.
 

 Stage

2007  Sherlock Holmes (The Early Years)

The Dowager Countess Blunt

2007  Measure for Measure

Mistress Overdone

2006  Pride and Prejudice

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

2006  December Fools

Gloria Temple

2005  Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Madame de Rosemonde

2005  Humble Boy

Flora Humble

2005  The Gin Game

Fonsia Dorsey

2003  John Gabriel Borkman by Henrik Ibsen

Gunhild Borkman

2003  Pygmalion

Mrs. Higgins

2002  Walk Right Up

Lily

2002  Great Expectations

Miss Havisham

2001  Cabaret

Frau Schneider

2001  Infinite Variety: Portrait of a Muse

Marchesa Luisa Casati

2000  The Coronation Voyage

Alice

2000  Footfalls/Krapp's Last Tape

May

2000  The Water Crawlers

Alicia

1999  The Cocktail Hour

Ann

1998  My Mother's Courage

Elsa Tabori

1998  A Delicate Balance

Agnes

1998  The Breakdown

The Woman

1972  King Lear

Cordelia

19??  Henry VIII

Queen Katherine

19??  The Cherry Orchard

Lybov Ranevskaya

19??  Tartuffe

Elaine/Elmire

19??  Immediate Family

Virginia

19??  Kennedy's Children

Carla

19??  Old Times

Anna

19??  The Seagull

Madame Arkadina

19??  A Streetcar Named Desire

Blanche Dubois

19??  Passion Play

Eleanor

19??  An Italian Straw Hat

The Baroness

19??  Peer Gynt

The Woman in Green

19??  Private Lives

Amanda

19??  Article 58

Lyuba

19??  The Forest

Raisa Pavlona

19??  The Dreamland

Arlene

19??  Breaking the Code

Sarah Turning

19??  Sea Marks

Timothea

19??  Independence

Margaret

19??  A Taste of Honey

Helen

19??  Tete A Tete

Simone de Beauvoir

19??  In Confidence

Chrissie

19??  What the Butler Saw

Mrs. Prentice

19??  Coriolanus

Volumnia

19??  The Devil's Disciple

Judith Anderson

19??  Too True To Be Good

Sweetie

19??  Rosmersholm

Rebekka West

19??  Pygmalion

Elizabeth Doolittle

19??  Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Gertrude

19??  Lorenzacchio

Countess Cibo

19??  Hamlet

Gertrude

19??  Les Parents Terribles

Yvonne

19??  Ménage à Trois

Leone

19??  War and Peace

Natasha

19??  Period of Adjustment

Isabel Haverstick

19??  Inherit the Wind

Rachael Brown

19??  Adjustable Positions

Melanie

19??  The Jumping Fool

Maria

19??  Pack of Lies

Standby for Rosemary Harris

19??  Conduct Unbecoming

Marjorie Hasseltine

  

 Film

2001  Desire

2000  The Spreading Ground

Mayor Hackett

1999  The Silver Surfer

Infinity

1998  The White Raven

Hannah Rothschild

1993  Mustard Bath

Matthew's Mother

1988  Criminal Law

Dr. Sybil Thiel

1986  Head Office

Mrs. Issel

1985  Invitation to the Wedding

Lady Caroline

1982  Love

Mrs. Wiseman

1980  Double Negative, a.k.a. Deadly Companion

Frances

1980  The Kidnapping of the President

Joan Scott (The First Lady)

1978  Damien: Omen II

Joan Hart

1970  Hell Boats

Alison

1965  Tomb of Ligeia, a.k.a. Tomb of the Cat

Lady Ligeia Fell/Lady Rowena Trevanion

1963  Blind Corner

Joan Marshall

1962  What Every Woman Wants

Sue Goodwin

1961  The Queen's Guards

Susan

19??  End of Summer

Madame Vera

19??  My Own Country

Mrs. Paez

19??  Desire

Mrs. Waterson

19??  The Piano Man's Daughter

Miss Richter

19??  Presumed Innocent

Anne

  

 Teleplays/TV Movies/Mini Series

2006  Shades of Black: The Conrad Black Story

Margaret Thatcher

2003  Hemingway vs Callaghan

2001  Love and Treason (7 March)

Betty Timmons

2000  Love and Murder

Hilda McCort

1997  Let Me Call You Sweetheart

1996  End of Summer

Vera

1994  Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes

Kingsley

1985  Bleak House

1985  The Cuckoo Bird

Kate

1982  Frost In May

1978  The Bastard

Emma Sholto

1977  Three Weeks

Queen Draga of Serbia

19??  Aladdin Window

19??  Killing Me Softly

19??  The Winters Tale

19??  JFK: The Restless Years

19??  Bethune

19??  The Story of Esther

19??  The First Night of Pygmalion

19??  The Marriage Circus

19??  Beaverbrook

19??  Time to Say Goodbye?

19??  By the Sword Divided

19??  Amelia

19??  The Citadel

19??  The Duchess of Duke Street

19??  The Cleopatras

19??  Buddenbrooks

19??  The Birds Fall Down

  

 TV Series

1998  The Silver Surfer

Voice of Infinity

1996  The Adventures of Shirley Holmes

Peggy Holmes

1996  The Class of '96

1996  PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal

Dr. Marian Smithwick

1994  Side Effects

R.N. Judy Owens

1980  The Phoenix Team

Valerie Koester

1966  The Corridor People

Syrie Van Epp

19??  The Collaborators

  

 TV Guest Appearances

2003  All My Children

Paulina Kundera

1999  Poltergeist

"Unholy Congress"

Jane Witherspoon

1997  Black Harbour

"Another Country"

Martha Haskell

1994  The Mighty Jungle

"Done to a Crisp"

Dr. Morton

1982  Q.E.D.

"4:10 to Zurich"

1976  The Duchess of Duke Street

"A Lady of Virtue"

Diana Strickland

19??  Secret Agent, a.k.a. Danger Man

"Dangerous Secret"

Louise Carron

19??  The Road to Avonlea

19??  The Citadel

19??  Spenser for Hire

19??  The Protectors

19??  E.N.G.

19??  Street Legal

19??  The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne

19??  Twice in a Lifetime

19??  Main Chance

19??  Court Martial

19??  The Hidden Room

19??  All My Children

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Page last modified 24 October 2007.

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