Judi Dench

Born Dec. 9, 1934, in York, England, to amateur-thespian parents, Judith Olivia Dench has been acting since she was 5 years old. She rose quickly through the ranks of British theatre, eventually joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961.

Dench made her film debut in The Third Secret (1964) and has appeared in several Shakespeare adaptations, including Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989) and Hamlet (1996). Dench is best known by many Americans as British spy commander "M" in the James Bond franchise (beginning with 1996's GoldenEye).

Oscar-nominated for Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (1997), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) and Notes on a Scandal (2006), Dench won the Best Supporting Actress award for an eight-minute performance as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love (1998). She received Emmy and Golden Globe nods in 2010 for her work in the miniseries "Return to Cranford."