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Rachel Claire Ward, AM (born 12 September 1957) is a Britishmarker actress, columnist, film director and screenwriter who has primarily pursued her career in Australia.

Early life

Ward was born at Chipping Nortonmarker, Oxfordshire, Englandmarker, the daughter of Claire Leonora (née Baring) and the Hon. Peter Alistair Ward. Her grandfathers were William Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley and the cricketer Giles Baring; Ward is also the great-granddaughter of William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Governor-General of Australia 1908–11, and sister of environmental campaigner and former actress Tracy Louise Ward. She attended the Byam Shaw School of Artmarker in Londonmarker before leaving at 16 to become a top fashion model. She briefly dated David Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1983 she was voted one of the 10 most beautiful women in the United Statesmarker.


She became well known when she starred opposite Richard Chamberlain as the lead role portraying Meggie Cleary in the television mini-series The Thorn Birds (1983) for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. In 2001 she was nominated for the same award for her role in On the Beach (2000). She also received a Golden Globe Award nomination (New Star of the Year) for her role in the film Sharky's Machine (1981) with Burt Reynolds. Other notable films from that period include Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) with Steve Martin and Against All Odds (1984) with Jeff Bridges.

Ward then disappeared from film for three years to study acting. She reappeared in 1987 playing opposite her husband, Bryan Brown (whom she met on the set of The Thorn Birds), in The Umbrella Woman. Married since 1983, they have three children: Rose (Rosie), Matilda (who has followed her parents into the acting profession), and Joe.

In 2001, Ward won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Short Fiction Film for The Big House., and Best Australian Film at Flickerfest. The film also won the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award, as did her 2003 film Martha's New Coat. That film also won the 2003 ATOM Award

In 2003, a portrait of Rachel Ward by artist Jan Williamson won the Packing Room Prize at the Archibald Prize competition. In 2005, Ward was made a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to raising awareness of social justice through lobbying, mentoring and advocacy for the rights of disadvantaged and at-risk young people, and support for the Australian film and television industry."

In 2007, Ward returned to television, headlining the new ABC drama Rain Shadow. She played a country veterinarian named Kate McDonald, a free spirit who confronts personal and professional obstacles in a rural, drought-affected town. In June 2009 her first feature-length film Beautiful Kate, adapted by Ward from a 1982 Newton Thornburg novel, premiered at the Sydney Film Festival.





  • The Big House (2000)
  • Blindman's Bluff (2000)
  • Beautiful Kate (2009)



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