Thursday 19 August 2010

Katherine of Aragon in the Movies

"Henry VIII had six wives. Catherine of Aragon was the first: but her story is of no particular interest - she was a respectable woman. So Henry divorced her."
- Introduction to the movie The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

British stage actress, Violet Vanbrugh, who played Queen Katherine in the silent movie Henry VIII (1911), based on the play by William Shakespeare.

American actress, Julia Swayne Gordon, seen here in an early publicity photo, played Katherine in the movie Cardinal Wolsey (1912).

  Seen sitting on the left is Hedwig Pauly Winterstein as Katherine in the German silent movie epic Anna Boleyn (1920.)

A scene from the movie When Knighthood was in Flower (1922), based on the best-selling novel by Charles Major. Queen Katherine was a minor character in this story of her sister-in-law's love affair with Charles Brandon and she was played by theatre actress, Theresa Maxwell Conover.

Rosine Deréan who played Katherine in the French-language historical epic, Les pearls de la couronne (1937.)

Rosalie Crutchley appears as Katherine of Aragon, next to James Robertson Justice as King Henry VIII, in The Sword and the Rose (1953), the second cinema adaptation of Charles Major's novel When Knighthood was in Flower. Crutchley would later go onto play Katharine Parr, King Henry's final wife, in the television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII and its sequel, Elizabeth R.

Actress Margaretta Scott played Katherine in a one-off British television drama, The White Falcon (1956), based on the life of her successor, Anne Boleyn.

 "I'm bored, Wolsey. Bored with the Court... bored with my Spanish cow."
Greek actress, Irene Papas, gave a memorable performance as Queen Katherine in the Oscar-winning biopic Anne of the Thousand Days (1969.)

"Bring your hundred learned men! I can bring a thousand learned men from all over Europe to prove that I am you wife, I always have been your wife and I always will be!" 
Scottish television and stage actress, Annette Crosbie, played Katherine from the age of sixteen until her death aged fifty in 1536. Like Frances Cuka's performance two years later in Henry VIII and his Six Wives (below), Crosbie was one of the few actresses to have the real Katherine's colouring - pale with fair or ginger hair. Annette Crosbie gave this performance as Katherine in the first episode of the BBC's award-winning series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970.)
The great Shakespearean actress, Claire Bloom, played Queen Katherine in the television adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth (1979.) She reprised the role on an American production of the same in 1999.

Spanish beauty queen, Nerea Garcia, seen here today, made a brief appearance as a child as the infant Katherine of Aragon in the Spanish-language biopic, Juana la loca (2001), based on the tragic life of Katherine's elder sister, Queen Juana.

Yolanda Vazquez appeared as Katherine of Aragon in the BBC's adaptation of Philippa Gregory's novel The Other Boleyn Girl (2003.)

Spanish actress, Assumpta Serna, in the role of Katherine for the 2-part British television movie, Henry VIII (2003.)

"What offends His Majesty offends me."
Ana Torrent, another native of Spain, played Queen Katherine as a self-righteous bully in the Hollywood dramatisation of The Other Boleyn Girl (2008.)

"You sent me away before, though I loved you."
Irish actress, Maria Doyle Kennedy, played Queen Katherine in seventeen episodes of the Showtime series, The Tudors, in 2007 and 2008. Maria was nominated for both a Gemini and an Irish Film and Television Award for her sympathetic portrayal of the Queen. She reprised her role for the 2010 finale, appearing as Queen Katherine's ghost, opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyer as her ailing husband and Sarah Bolger as her daughter, Mary Tudor. The scene can be watched here.


  1. So many dark-haired beauties! But I remember watching 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and then looking at the famous portrait of Katherine and thinking that Ms Crosbie was the most accurate representation I had seen so far. Although, in my opinion, it was Irene Papas who best personified Katherine. 'Anne of a Thousand Days' remains a huge favorite of mine.

  2. Excellent post. People keep forgetting that Queen Katherine had Plantagenet blood. She was fair with red gold hair, not dark at all.

  3. I admire Irene Papa's portrayal - although I realise this is not the most accurate in terms of appearance. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but the dark colouring of many Latin people, Greeks etc; is due to the invasion of Moors and Arabs.

    1. I'm Spanish and I'm correcting you, because there was not a great invasion, but a small (comparatively) army that defeated the unorganised people in our peninsula, and lots of natives, lots, converted to islam and kept on marrying as before.
      Our looks are the usual looks in southern Europe, and the southern you go, darker we get, but as happens in who,e Europe and Africa ;)

      I've got green eyes and pale skin and dark brown hair

  4. Was Katherine depicted in the series, 'The Shadow of the Tower' (1972)? I have never seen the series - fortunately it will be released on DVD sometime later this year - but it does cover Henry VII's reign. Does it include a young Katherine?

  5. Katherine is, yes. Although unfortunately there were no on-line photographs of the actress who played her. Do let me know what you make of the series!

  6. for all who are who love and admire queen katharine of aragon check out the website for her cause:

  7. Thank you so much for compiling this list! Katherine of Aragon has always been a favorite historical figure of mine, and I'm excited to learn that there are several film portrayals of which I was previously unaware!


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