Lynn Redgrave was one of those rare people who could truly claim that theater was in her blood, and so, after a grueling round of chemo for breast cancer in 2003, she chose her ideal therapy: a starring role in the Off-Broadway show Talking Heads
. "She said Dr. Theater got her through the hard times," says director Joseph Hardy, an old pal. "She was always positive like that."
Onstage and off, Redgrave radiated pluck-never more so than as the plump protagonist in the 1966 film Georgy Girl
, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination at 23. But the youngest member of an acting dynasty-her parents were West End legends Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, her siblings Vanessa and Corin Redgrave (who died April 6), and her nieces Joely and the late Natasha Richardson-once called herself "the glum one" and struggled with her self-image.
She began a new life in America, where she starred in the '80s sitcom House Calls
and raised Benjamin, 42, Kelly, 40, and Annabel, 29, her children with actor John Clark, whom she divorced in 2000. Her kids helped her weather the split and a seven-year battle with cancer. Surrounded by loved ones, she died at 67 in her Connecticut home on May 2.
For all her acting kudos-she was nominated for three Tonys and scored a second Oscar nod for 1998's Gods and Monsters
-Hardy says it was just the final bow Redgrave wanted. "She was very, very proud of her children," he says. "She loved life. And she never gave up."