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Things You Probably Didn't Know About Maggie Smith

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Vote up the most impressive facts that made you say, 'Whoa.'

Maggie Smith is one of those actors you know and love from any number of projects. After all, she's been active in theater and film since 1952, and her body of work is immense. She's been deeply involved in the Harry Potter franchise, Downton Abbey, and tons of stage plays. Her work has helped define multiple generations of film and theater, and although you probably know a little about her, there are plenty of things you probably didn't know about Maggie Smith.

While most people know her from her role as Professor Minerva McGonagall, there's a good chance you've seen her in something and simply forgot. After all, she was in both Sister Act movies, the original Clash of the Titans, and plenty more films throughout her long career. This list features some of the lesser-known facts and details about Dame Maggie Smith that most people don't know. 

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    820 VOTES

    She Fought Voldemort And Cancer At The Same Time

    Maggie Smith, who played Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films, had cancer while filming the final movie in the series. She decided to continue working on the film despite her condition because she didn't want to disappoint the fans. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 73, which required chemo and radiation therapy during the filming of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

    The actor spoke about her treatment to Britain's The Times while discussing her return to the theater:

    It leaves you so flattened. I’m not sure I could go back to theater work, although film work is more tiring. I’m frightened to work in theater now. I feel very uncertain. I haven’t done it for a while... I think it’s the age I was when it happened. It knocks you sideways. It takes you longer to recover; you are not so resilient. I am fearful of the amount of energy one needs to be in a film or a play.

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    She's Won A Ton Of Awards

    Over the years, Maggie Smith has racked up hundreds of award nominations from various organizations. Her accolades include winning two Academy Awards (for best actress in 1969 as Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and best supporting actress in 1978 as Diana Barrie in California Suite), four Emmy Awards (three for playing Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey, and the other for Mary Gilbert in HBO's Capturing Mary), seven BAFTAs, and a Tony Award (for best actress in 1990 as Lettice Douffet in Lettice and Lovage). Add to that her three Golden Globes, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, and six Best Actress Evening Standard Theater Awards.

    She's (currently) the only actor in history to win a best actress award before receiving an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She's also one of only 14 women to take home the Triple Crown of acting, which includes a Tony, Oscar, and Emmy. All she needs is a Grammy to join the illustrious club of people who have an EGOT, and she will have won every major award for someone in her industry.

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    She Was Knighted By The Queen In 1990

    In 1970, Maggie Smith was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honor achieved by many people in her line of work (as long as they're citizens of the UK). She had that honor upgraded in 1989 when she was raised to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which also happens for entertainers, though not as often.

    In 2014, Smith was honored once more when she was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honor, becoming the third actress to receive such recognition. Smith earned the title of Dame (for men, it's Sir) in 1989, and that title was bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch awarded her the Companions of Honor in 2014, which places her full name and title as Dame Margaret Natalie Smith CH, DBE.

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    She's A Talented Singer

    Like many talented actors who have worked in the theater, Maggie Smith is an exceptional singer. She's been cast in various roles requiring her to sing, and in every instance, she's nailed it. Smith is somewhat self-deprecating and humble, however, when describing herself, as she's rather humble. In an interview with The New York Times, she said, "I think Leonard was under this mad illusion that I could sing," in reference to producer Leonard Sillman. 

    After Sillman saw her performance in a West End revue, he immediately cast her in New Faces on Broadway. During her appearances on The Carol Burnett Show in the '70s, she performed several humorous musical numbers. One of her best singing performances is her rendition of a WWI recruiting song called "I'll Make a Man of You," which she performed in 1969's Oh! What a Lovely War, which you can watch here.