Joanna Lumley turns 75: The actor’s incredible fashion and beauty evolution

The national treasure is celebrating a major milestone birthday.

Is there an actor on earth more beloved than Joanna Lumley?

The veteran star, who celebrates her 75th birthday on May 1, is a true national treasure, adored as much for her on-screen performances – including the incomparable Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous – and silky voice, as she is for her activism and philanthropic efforts.

Season 5 Patsy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


Not only has she enjoyed showbiz success with a career that has spanned seven decades, the model-turned-actor has achieved both sex symbol and fashion icon status.

Here we look back at how Joanna Lumley’s style has evolved throughout the years…

Sixties: Model in the making

Richard Johnson and Joanna Lumley attend the premiere of The Devil’s Brigade

Lumley attending a movie premiere in 1968

Born in India in 1946, Lumley moved to England as a child and attended boarding school. Having been rejected by the famous RADA drama school, she had no formal acting training and began her career as a model, working for three years, most notably with fashion photographer Brian Duffy.

At the age of 23, Lumley lucked out with her first big screen role, appearing briefly in Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.

A natural brunette, Lumley wore her enviably thick locks long and flowing during the Sixties, before embracing more voluminous hair styles.

Seventies: The Avengers angel

Joanna Lumley, who plays Purdey, Patrick MacNee, who plays John Steed, and Gareth Hunt, who plays Mike Gambit, pictured during filming at Pinewood Studios

Lumley with her Avengers co-stars in 1976

Lumley’s breakthrough television role came in 1976 with The New Avengers, playing Purdey, a former ballerina-turned-spy.

Undergoing a radical transformation for the role, the actor was given a glossy, super-short bowl cut (that still somehow looked sexy), lots of Seventies-style black eyeliner and a wardrobe of glamorous outfits.

Joanna Lumley, who plays Sapphire in the TV series Sapphire and Steel, arriving at the Odeon Leicester Square in London for the Royal Charity premiere of the film ‘Yanks’

Lumley at a film premiere in 1979

Lumley embraced the look in real life, cutting her hair even shorter at the end of the decade, though her own personal style was somewhat more demure than Purdey’s.

Eighties: Silver screen siren

Indian-born actress Joanna Lumley, 38, in a scene from the seventh film of the Pink Panther series ‘Curse of the Pink Panther’, in which she plays the mysterious Countess Chandra

Lumley in the The Curse Of The Pink Panther

As her film career progressed, Lumley underwent another major transformation to play Countess Chandra in Curse Of The Pink Panther in 1983.

Donning a series of glitzy ruffled and feathered gowns, the actor’s dark brown hair was styled in tousled curls.

(l-r) Richard Todd, Sir Geraint Evans, Joanna Lumley, Derren Nesbett, Roy Dotrice and Gordon Jackson outside 10 Downing Street, where they handed in a letter expressing their sadness at the closure of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. The company has been performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan for 106 years.

Lumley outside 10 Downing Street in 1982

In the Eighties, Lumley started to become involved in activism, appearing at a Friends of the Earth rally and visiting 10 Downing Street to present a letter protesting the closure of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Nineties: Absolutely iconic

Absolutely Fabulous Weekend GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


Lumley’s most famous role came at the age of 45, playing the hilariously catty Patsy Stone in iconic comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, which began in 1992.

Nominated four times for the best comedy performance Bafta, Lumley took home the award in 1995.

Drunk Absolutely Fabulous GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


A fan of the ‘more is more’ look, champagne-swilling Patsy loved big bouffant hair, lashings of red lipstick, trendy tailoring and lots of bling.

Joanna lumley at Buckingham Palace in London after receiving her OBE from the Queen

Lumley at Buckingham Palace in London after receiving her OBE from the Queen

It looks as though the comedy character rubbed off on Lumley, as she started wearing designer skirt suits and statement jewellery off-screen too, albeit in a significantly more subtle way than her TV counterpart.

Noughties: Red carpet star

Joanna Lumley arrives for the British Academy Television Awards 2008

Lumley arrives for the British Academy Television Awards 2008

By now a regular on the red carpet, Lumley continued to impress with her outfits well into her 60s.

Usually opting for flowy or floral gowns, she often embraced bohemian prints and patterns that recalled her childhood in India.

Joanna Lumley arrives for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain awards 2009

Lumley arrives for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain awards 2009

Transitioning from the bright blonde of the Nineties, Lumley chose a softer, champagne hue for her hair, which was shoulder-length, with a flattering centre-parted fringe.

Now: Timeless beauty

Claudia Winkleman (left) and Joanna Lumley attending the 2019 BAFTA Film Gala

Claudia Winkleman (left) and Joanna Lumley attending the 2019 Bafta Film Gala

Still as glamorous as ever, it’s hard to believe that Lumley is now a septuagenarian. The actor said in an interview last year, while isolating at home in London due to the pandemic, that she’s scared she won’t be able to leave the house if she looks too old.

“So I keep dyeing my hair yellow,” she said, explaining that walking up and down the stairs shows that “even if I’m old, I’m still fine.”

Joanna Lumley with the Fellow Award in the press room at the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards 2017

Joanna Lumley with the Fellow Award in the press room at the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards 2017

Whatever she’s doing, it’s clearly working. Stylish and stunning at 75, Lumley is giving starlets half her age a run for their money on the red carpet.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
2nd May 2021
Thanks for voting!
I have always "loved" Joanna Lumley. An angel on the screen and in real life. Joanna, i am a real magician. Perhaps we should do some lightworking together?! Have a wonderful life.

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!