Joan Plowright was born in Brigg, Lincolnshire, and she attended Scunthorpe Grammar School. She is an English actress whose career has spanned over six decades. She has won two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy and two BAFTA Awards. She is also one of only four actresses to have won two Golden Globes in the same year.
The Plowright Theatre in nearby Scunthorpe is named in her honour. Upon her marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier, her formal title became "Lady Olivier"; however, she has never used it in her professional career. Her husband later became a life peer in 1970. This legally made her "The Lady Olivier" or more formally Baroness Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex.
Plowright was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1970 Queen's New Year Honours and was promoted to Dame Commander (DBE) in the 2004 Queen's New Year Honours.