Born Belfast 28th May 1944
Racy and blithe spirited actor of adequate ability, who secured her place in history, at least in the minds of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ aficionados, through her role as the outrageous but troubled vamp, Magenta, which gave her and other cast members world wide cult status.
Even in advancing years, she continued to enjoy the attention engendered by the enduring classic, which began for her in the original stage production at the Royal Court’s, Theatre Upstairs in 1973.
However there is more to her past than that particular milestone, she made her first television appearance in 1963 aged nineteen, in an episode of the ground breaking police drama series ‘Z Cars’. That same year she appeared at the Little Theatre, Bristol in Nicholas Udall’s 16th century drama ‘Ralph Roister Doister’ and following studies at the London Drama Stage Centre, she spent a season with Glasgow Citizens Theatre in 1969.
Her London stage debut saw her as Melody in Heathcote William’s AC/DC at the Royal Court in 1970 and in 1971 appeared in her first film, credited as a wife, in the medieval romp ‘Up the Chastity Belt’, starring Frankie Howerd.
She continued the stage/screen balancing act in the early seventies, until her potential career making role in Michael White’s now legendary film version of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ in 1975, which considering her subsidiary involvement, was a veritable pot of gold in the making.
In theatre she was in several prominent London productions, including Pat Gems’ ‘Sarah B Devine’ at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre 1973, Howard Barker’s ‘Stripwell’ at the Royal Court and Anthony Shaffer’s ‘Murderer’, at the Garrick, both 1975, where, incidentally she first met husband- to- be, Robert Stephens.
With the exception of a small part in the salacious 1976 mini series ‘I Claudius’ and a co- starring role in director Tony Luraschi’s Belfast set 1979 film ‘The Outsider’, her screen work in the latter half of the seventies was without substance.
Noteworthy stage work in the eighties included another Pam Gems piece, ‘Aunt Mary’, at the Donmar Warehouse 1982, Dario Fo’s ‘Can’t Pay Won’t Pay’ at the Criterion 1983 and Moss Hart’s ‘Light Up the Sky’ at the Od Vic in 1985. The best of her screen output during this time included the roles of Nation McKinley in the bizarre comedy ‘Shock Treatment’ 1981 and Mona Castlebar, in the 1987 mini series ‘Fortunes of War’.
In 1995 she married long time partner, actor, Robert Stephens but within a year she was widowed, following his death after a long illness, he did however appear with her in director Tony Palmer’s ‘England, My England’ 1995, a depiction of the life of 17th century English composer Henry Purcell. After ten years of inactivity, save her commitments to the ‘Rocky Horror’ fest merry-go-round and a definitive guest role at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe in Alison Carr’s madcap comedy, ‘Patricia Quinn Saved My Life’, she made a purely casual return to London theatre, with two appearances on the off-West End circuit. In 2008, at the Jermyn St. Theatre, she played Brookle Haun in Peter Dunne’s Connemara set romantic comedy, ‘The Dreamers of Inishdara’ and added a perfectly weighted poignancy to her role as the Mother, in Benjamin Cooper’s ‘Til I Die’, presented at the Old Red Lion Theatre in 2009.
Her first film work in fifteen years was brief, a low-key cameo credited her as Posh Hippy in director Stephen Frears rural English comedy of manners, ‘Tamara Drewe’ 2010, featuring a less than starry cast, but did include Bronagh Gallagher as the combative lesbian writer, Eustacia. Two independently produced American horror films in 2011/12, writer/director Ryan Scott Weber’s ‘Mary Horror’ and the bizarrely named Rob Zombie’s ‘The Lord’s of Salem’, were valueless, but for her, probably a barrel of fun.
Patricia Quinn’s career was not brimful of quality roles but in hindsight she has had a colourful professional life, which on balance did have some memorable moments.
Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:
– Macbeth(1975) New Vic, Bristol
– Disaster (1978) ICA , London
– Uncle Vanya(1985) Redgrave Theatre, Farnham
– A Bright Room Called Day (1988) Bush Theatre, London
– Hawk the Slayer (1980)
– Witching Time (1980)
– The Meaning of Life ( 1983)
– Shoulder to Shoulder (1974)
– Beauty and the Beast (1976)
– Lost Empires(1986)