In her career, she has won two Academy Awards. She won Best Actress in a Leading Role in 1970 for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1978 for California Suite and two Primetime Emmy awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in Miniseries or a Movie for My House in Umbria and Outstanding Supporting Actress in Miniseries or a Movie for Downton Abbey. Additionally, Smith has won five BAFTAs, and one Tony Award for her stage work.
Maggie Smith's career began at the Oxford Playhouse in the 1950s. She made her film début in 1956 as one of the party guests in a film called Child in the House. After that she has been acting with the most prominent actors and actresses in the world in over sixty films and TV-series, which include Othello (1965) with Laurence Olivier (as well as her future Potter co-star Michael Gambon in his film début), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), California Suite (1978) with Michael Caine and Jane Fonda, A Room with a View (1985), Richard III (1995) with Ian McKellen and Jim Broadbent, Franco Zeffirelli's Tea with Mussolini (1999) with Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Cher; and Gosford Park (2001) with Kristin Scott Thomas and Clive Owen, directed by Robert Altman. Maggie Smith has also been nominated for an Oscar six times, and won twice for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and California Suite (1978).
Lately Maggie Smith has appeared in very popular Harry Potter film series as formidable Professor McGonagall. She has also been in the headlines presently because of her breast cancer, but now she has been reported to be recovering from that and soon continued to film the last two Harry Potters and Julian Fellowes' film From Time to Time (2009) with Timothy Spall, Anne Reid and Hugh Bonneville. Smith has also appeared in 2010 Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang as a supporting character, along with Emma Thompson (who plays the title character) and Ralph Fiennes (who plays a small supporting role).
Smith has been married twice. First on 29 June, 1967 to actor Robert Stephens and had two sons with him, Chris Larkin and Toby Stephens, both actors. She and Stephens divorced on 6 May, 1974. On 23 August, 1975 she married playwright Beverly Cross and the marriage ended with his death on 20 March, 1998. Smith was, at the time, appearing in the play A Delicate Balance, but she continued until the end of the run.
In 2008 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but made a full recovery.