Every Actress Who Played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Ranked

Author Agatha Christie‘s Miss Marple is one of the most iconic and celebrated literary sleuths of all time. The amateur investigator was first introduced in the 1930 novel Murder at the Vicarage, appearing in 11 subsequent novels up until 1976. The character has been portrayed on the stage, on radio, on the big screen, and in cozy mystery shows like Agatha Christie’s Marple plenty of times since the character’s screen debut in 1961.

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Over the past 60 years, Miss Marple has been portrayed by some of the more impressive actresses from all over the world. Due to the character’s age, she is commonly played by veteran actresses with decades of experience behind them, allowing for some truly fantastic performances. When it comes to every Miss Marple actress, they range from the most obscure to the most influential and acclaimed but all are great for different reasons.

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11 Inge Langen

Murder At The Vicarage (1970)

Inge Langen in Miss Marple

Having starred as Miss Marple in a single German production of Murder at the Vicarage in 1970, Inge Langen is the most obscure actress to play the legendary role. Langen, a journeywoman actress who appeared in German movies and TV such as Der Zinker, was only 46 when she played the typically elderly role.

Directed by Hans Quest, the film finds Marple investigating the mysterious murder of a local official who has drawn out two false confessions from innocent suspects. Once Marple clears the married couple who confessed, she works her way through a throng of motivated suspects to solve the murder. Lange may not be the best-remembered Miss Marple, but she was the first to portray the character in non English-language media.

10 Julia McKenzie

Marple (2008-2013) & Masterpiece Mystery (2014)

Julia McKenzie as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple looking directly into the camera

In 2004, ITV created their own Agatha Christie adaptation with a series titled Agatha Christie’s Marple, which ran for six seasons and a total of 23 episodes. In 11 of those episodes, Miss Marple was played by British actress Julia McKenzie with a much softer and self-deprecating side. McKenzie is an acclaimed theatrical actress, having won a Tony Award and two Olivier Awards for her work in musicals. While McKenzie is no replacement for Geraldine McEwan, who played Marple in the first three seasons and 12 episodes, she owns brings her own trademark to the role in such exciting chapters as They Do it With Mirrors and Murder is Easy.

9 Yunjin Kim

Ms. Ma, Nemesis (2018)

Korean actress Yunjin Kim brings a refreshing wrinkle to the character of Miss Marple in the Agatha Christie mash-up series, Ms. Ma, Nemesis. The series ran for 32 episodes and covered a number of Christie mysteries, reimagining the lead as a young South Korean mystery writer. Kim is otherwise best known for playing Sun in American hit Lost. In addition to Christie’s novel Nemesis, the show pulls various storylines from such other works as The Body in the Library, A Murder is Announced, The Moving Finger and The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side. Kim plays Ms. Ma, a younger international spinoff of the character and is the most recent of every Miss Marple actress.

8 Ita Ever

Secret Of The Blackbirds (1983) & Miss Marple Stories (1990)

Ita Ever as Miss Marple

Estonian screen and stage actress Ita Ever became the third person to portray Miss Marple in a feature film. She first starred in the role in the Russian adaptation of A Pocket Full of Rye in 1983, which went by a different name. A legend of Estonian theatre, Ever has also starred in adaptations of works by Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Ibsen, and more. Ever acquitted herself well enough to be asked to reprise the role in a 1990 TV adaptation called Miss Marple Stories. In 2005, Ever played Marple for the final time on stage in the translation of The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side.

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7 Kaoru Yachigusa

Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot And Marple (2004-2005)

Miss Marple from the anime series Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple

In 39 episodes produced between 2004 and 2005, Japanese actress Kaoru Yachigusa voiced the role of Miss Marple in the animated TV series Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Marple and Poirot, and was one of the most unique out of every MIss Marple actress. Yachigusa excels with her experience and ability to breathe new life into the role. The series brings Christie’s two greatest detectives together by introducing the character of Miss Marple’s great-niece Maybelle West, who becomes Poirot’s assistant.

Among the various novel and short stories adapted in the series include Strange Jest, Sleeping Murder, The Blue Geranium, Ingots of Gold, The Tape Measure Murder, and several others. Yachigusa was a veteran and award-winning Japanese actress, having started in the cross-dressing Takarazuka Revue in the 1950s, and this was her only anime role.

6 Helen Hayes

A Caribbean Mystery (1983) & Agatha Christie’s Murder with Mirrors (1985)

Helen Hayes as Miss Marple in A Caribbean Mystery (1985)

American actress Helen Hayes plays Marple twice in a pair of made-for-television Christie adaptations. The first came in the 1983 telling of A Caribbean Mystery and the second came in a 1985 redo of Murder with Mirrors. Hayes was nicknamed “the First Lady of American Theatre” and was the first woman to win the fabled “EGOT,” meaning her Marple role came at the end of a legendary career.

Hayes’s performance as Marple was noted for being cheery and anodyne, rather than the snarky and sarcastic crank some of the others played the character with. In 1982, Hayes also appeared in Murder is Easy, a non-Marple mystery in which she plays Lavinia Fullerton. The two series were broadcast on CBS and were Hayes’ final TV roles.

5 June Whitfield

Miss Marple (1993-2001)

june-whitfield

One of the more overlooked adaptations of the Miss Marple stories was the BBC radio series produced from 1993 to 2001. The radio series covered all eight novels and a handful of short stories as part of the series The Saturday Play.

The radio series starred June Whitfield, a famed British actress who is best known for her comedic supporting role in the Absolutely Fabulous series. With only her voice, Whitfield brought Christie’s famous character to life for almost a decade. Whitfield returned for three more short stories in a 2015 series billed as Miss Marple’s Final Cases, making her arguably the most prolific of all Miss Marple actresses.

4 Geraldine McEwan

Marple (2004-2007)

Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple

Geraldine McEwan brought a caustic bite to her depiction of Marple on three seasons and 12 episodes of ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Marple from 2005 to 2009. McEwan was a veteran British actress known for her comedic ability who also shone in dramatic roles, winning two Olivier Awards and a BAFTA Award for her roles over the years. In addition to being given a rich backstory, McEwan’s Marple is notable for how stern, sterile, and unfunny she is. In making a concerted effort to move away from the most memorable of screen performances of the character, the lack of camp and kitsch makes McEwan one of the most unique of every Miss Marple actress.

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3 Joan Hickson

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: The Body In The Library (1984), The Moving Finger (1985), A Murder Is Announced (1985), A Pocket Full Of Rye (1985), Masterpiece Mystery (1986), The Murder At The Vicarage (1986), Sleeping Murder (1987), At Bertram’s Hotel (1987), Nemesis (1987), 4.50 From Paddington (1987), A Caribbean Mystery (1989), They Do It With Mirrors (1991) & The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side (1992)

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple

The BBC’s rich drama history includes adaptations of all 12 Christie novels about the character in a series simply titled Miss Marple. Joan Hickson, who first played the role on stage in 1940, played Marple in all dozen. Her performance was even reportedly praised by Queen Elizabeth II when Hickson received an OBE in 1987.

Given the sheer breadth of her performance over eight years and 12 feature-length episodes, Hickson branded the character as her very own. As a result, Hickson scored back-to-back BAFTA nods in 1987 and 1988 for Best Actress as Miss Marple. Hickson also won a 1987 UK Royal Television Award for Best Performance in the Marple series. She is easily one of the most iconic of all Miss Marple actresses to date.

2 Angela Lansbury

The Mirror Crack’d (1980)

Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple in The Mirror Crack'd

Although Angela Lansbury only played Jane Marple once via the star-studded 1980 Christie movie adaptation of The Mirror Crack’d, her acting choices set her far apart from the pack. Lansbury was already a legend for her stage performances and appearances in classic films ranging from Gaslight to The Manchurian Candidate, but she brought her all to the role of Christie’s detective.

Rather than a doddering elderly woman, Lansbury plays Marple with sharp-minded intelligence who doesn’t suffer fools easily. Of course, her 264 episodes of Murder, She Wrote as the iconic Marple-like Jessica Fletcher only bolsters her silver medal status.

1 Margaret Rutherford

Murder She Said (1961), Murder At The Gallop (1963), Murder Most Foul (1964), Murder Ahoy (1964) & The Alphabet Murders (1965)

Margaret Rutherford in her Oscar winning role in VIP.

The first, most definitive, and best Miss Marple actress was Margaret Rutherford, the London-born actress who first played the part in the 1962 adaptation of The Mirror Crack’d Side to Side. With no one else to compare her performance, Rutherford owned the role in a way that was imitated for years. Rutherford received an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1963, but continued to return to the role of Miss Marple.

Rutherford reprised the frumpy, dizzy, and quirky turn as Marple in several films, including Murder, She Said, Murder At the Gallup, Murder Most Foul, Murder Ahoy!, and The Alphabet Murders. Rutherford emphasized the comedic and “dotty” elements of Miss Marple, and even incorporated clothes from her own home into her on-screen wardrobe. While some Christie devotees criticized Rutherford’s take on the character, she set the standard that every future Miss Marple actress would be measured against, allowing for more serious versions like Lansbury’s to shine.

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