38 thoughts on “Frock Flicks Guide to Catherine of Aragon on Screen

  1. I’m going with Annette Crosbie for the best KoA bc she’s amazeballs in it. Has the right coloring, and you can really sympathise with her plight. Both her father, Ferdinand, and father-in-law, Henry VII, used her shamelessly. My second favourite is Joanna Whalley and yes she should be in a red wig. Think Willow. The others were poor choices coloring wise and in the Fucking Spanish Monstrosity, history was tossed out the window like in FINDING FREEDOM.

      1. Crosbie is the definitive Kathy of A. I was furious when the divine Irene Pappas was cast as the Cold Spurned Wife. (She might have made an interesting Anne Boleyn in her younger days; she was Helen of Troy in “The Trojan Women” for good reason.) O.T.: Some of my favorite scenes in Hillary Mantel play out between KofA and Cromwell. They are good opponents, both intelligent and shrewd, Katharine a conservative Catholic and Cromwell a born pragmatist.

        1. I agree with you re Wolf Hall. Another thing about it, I felt that Cromwell respected and possibly liked KoA but he bc of his Protestant leanings was firmly in Anne Boleyn’s camp, but didn’t respect nor like Anne Boleyn.

        2. Yes!Wolf Hall definitely managed to have a a wonderful interpretation of Katherine even from Cromwell’s perspective,which is actually accurate considering the good things the real Cromwell said about her.And Mantel’s Wolsey even acknowledged her stunning beauty in her youth.
          KoA was never a pivotal character in WH,but the book does treat her as a formidable,capable monarch.Sadly the series distilled those aspects a bit.

  2. I must confess that I quite like Irene Papas, even though she’s physically wrong for the part. Of course, if you don’t like Annette Crosbie, there’s something wrong with you. :)

    1. I luuurved Annette Crosbie as KoA,even though Frances Kuka more closely resembles the available portraits(if you plan to do a review the six wives movie with Keith Mitchell,definitely do it!Atleast for the costumes,which take some theatrical liberties but are brimming with colours,details and textures,while being perfectly fitted to the actors).
      Basically any interpretation was better than what P*G did to my Katherine(unless I studied the history of some alternate reality,but she knows better about her cReAtIvE_LiBeRtY and as a woman knows better about her choices to make K fem_inist,as if she wasn’t in real life).I do wonder if the 21st century has actually forgotten that she was a curvaceous woman,in her old age AND youth?Physical similarity is not what casting directors aim for,but at least the actor should have a particular “presence” and demeanour.Nobody gets Anne’s complexion or eye colour right,but at least they get her elegant “exotic” personna.While poor Katherine gets repeatedly depicted as a particularly prudish and gloomy Victorian governess desensitized to the emotions of joy and devoid of the ability to smile,not the majestic queen she was.

      1. “While poor Katherine gets repeatedly depicted as a particularly prudish and gloomy Victorian governess desensitized to the emotions of joy and devoid of the ability to smile, not the majestic queen she was.” Well said.

  3. As a gem geek, I’m squeeing over the pearls and diamonds in Catherine’s portraits. Also adore the accurate gable hoods in the screen caps.

  4. So Anette Crosbie and Frances Cuka win
    Claire Bloom in second
    Joanne Whalley in third for great costumes but unfit appearance
    Sounds fair to me
    But I remember there was a movie called Catalina de Inglaterra about catherine life starring Spanish actress Maruchi Fresno I remember seeing some stills and they looked fairly accurate to me

    1. Waiting for a Post on Annette Crosbie as Queen Victoria she was regal and bitchy and wonderful in Ed VII she deserved her top billing

      1. Also may recommend you a historical bitch? Polish Queen Bona Sforza she came from Italy married the much older King of Poland produced about 4 children and apparently killed 2 of her daughters in law there’s a beautiful miniseries about her called Królowa Bona (1980) that recreated very nicely the outfits the historical characters used in their known portraits

  5. Definitely I’ll never read P*G all the series based on her books hurt my eyes and the stories are more sex than story I may stand for trashy fiction if it’s consistent but Spanish Princess is as bad as the rest
    Annette Crosbie my ever favorite KOA

  6. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, followed closely by Elizabeth R, were seriously the gateway drugs for me to this whole wonderful history/costume world we all play in. Just because I’ve parked myself firmly in the Deco era of late doesn’t mean those 2 series didn’t mean a lot (and a very important lot at that) to me.

  7. It definitely needs a well-cut production to be done well, but I highly recommend checking out Shakespeare’s Henry VIII if you get the chance – or at least some Katherine excerpts from the divorce trial. Katherine’s monologues are really wonderful! (even if the play as a whole is admittedly not Shakespeare’s best)

  8. I love Six Wives with Lucy Worsley! I love that they didn’t take the tack so many do where one of the wives is the “good one” and the rest were bad people. Also for a really long time all I knew about Catherine was about how the marriage ended, and almost nothing about how respected she was by the country, even by Henry for a while.

    Also, The Spanish Princess is a travesty on a historical (and kind of storytelling lol) level, but I kind of like that headband with the blue dress. Does it look like anything historical? Nope! But it does remind me of something Alexis Rose would wear on Schitt’s Creek lol

    1. This!! I really need that we all need a movie about the whole thing from Catherine’s perspective! The world is ready.

    2. Why, when “The Spanish Princess” is about the mid-to-late teenaged years and early 20’s in Catherine of Aragon, did they cast a 30 year old actress to play her? The actress was certainly attractive, but she definitely looked older than the teenager playing Prince Henry (and I didn’t think they had any chemistry).

        1. Well, “The Spanish Princess” series invested heavily in a passionate romantic attraction between young Catherine and her brother-in-law; so they present Arthur as a dork and young Henry as supposedly a year or two younger than Arthur (but looking like a cute young jock) rather than the child he actually was. But the story would have been far more interesting if they’d shown the years that Catherine had to wait, her struggle as a pawn caught between Henry VII and her own father, being reduced to near-poverty (at least from a wealthy princess’ prospective) while the child Henry grew from a very cute and athletic boy to a splendid young king, England’s darling, who wanted to marry Catherine and did.

  9. I couldn’t stay with The Tudors past a few episodes, but I loved Maria Doyle Kennedy’s presence and bearing as Katherine (Also, I love her in everything.) I haven’t seen enough of the other productions to say much more. Of the costumes pictured here, I think that the wedding gown from The Spanish Princess is the prettiest. I agreed with the comment about wanting Maria Doyle Kennedy’s jewelry and that one of the actresses looked like a vampire queen.

  10. Also, the actress from Anne of a Thousand Days reminds me very much of Alicia Borrachero, the actress who played the wife of the evil Telmarine leader Miraz in the 2008 version of Prince Caspian.

    1. Alicia Borrachero played Isabella, Catherine’s mother, on the first episode of “The Spanish Princess”. So you’re not too far off…(I loved the 2008 “Prince Caspian” movie).

  11. Joanne Whalley, hands down. I actually wasn’t bothered by the hair, since based on portraits Katherine’s hair did darken quite a bit as she aged, which isn’t uncommon with repeated pregnancy.

  12. What bothers me a lot about 90% of these depictions is that they make her a frigid bitch. This is the woman who upset her husband because he was trying to be all serious and pious about the divorce and instead she’s partying in her antechamber. This is the woman who was so likable that the public was 100% on her side. So casting her as this dowdy, angry-looking, frowny woman is … totally inaccurate. And yes, this includes Joanne Whalley, where the most we see of her is snapping meanly at her daughter to suck it up and not whine because she doesn’t feel good.

    Also, it’s weird that in The Other Boleyn Girl they made her so cold on-screen — that’s the ONLY book PG wrote where I feel she was done right — a very likable woman, the ‘wronged’ woman, but then PG reversed it with her books on “Catherine.”

    Anyway, I must give Maria kudos because I started watching The Tudors for Anne Boleyn and walked away a Katharine of Aragon fan. She made me feel so sorry for her, she put such depth, maturity, and loveliness into the role, that I went forth and read everything I could find about Katharine and started a love affair with her and haven’t gone back.

    I’m afraid other than Paola Bontempi, I don’t like the rest (I like Maria, but she doesn’t look the part, sadly). She was marvelous. Thanks to Lucy Worsley for getting all the wives pretty spot-on and casting them with the right coloring.

    1. I remember that scene in Wolf Hall where Joanne Whalley as Catherine admonishes her daughter not to complain – and it was one of the few scenes I did not believe. I think it was written to show that Cromwell had empathy for the suffering Princess Mary. Mary is not a child in the scene, she’s a teenager and would have been raised from early child to be aware of her rank, her royal dignity. She was very proud and strong-willed. I cannot believe that Mary would whine about her “woman’s trouble”, even mention it, in front of Cromwell, who was a blacksmith’s son.

      1. Wolf Hall seemed to have it out for the women. It portrays Anne Boleyn as a bitchy shrew and Catherine as an ice queen. I’ve heard the argument — well, it’s cuz it’s from Cromwell’s POV and that’s how he saw them, but eh, I ain’t buying it.

  13. C of A was many things, opinionated, intransigent, self deceiving, and so on but never, ever ‘bitchy’ she was a great lady through and through and for all her maddening defiance, from Henry’s POV, flawlessly courteous.

  14. Six Wives with David Starkey – is this the one he’s discussing Henry’s and Catherine’s age differences and he shows mini portrait and says she’s “wearing badly”? Or is that another one of his? I GRRRR’d so hard when that bit came on! And he says nevertheless way way way too much. But that might be in something else too LOL. He just bugs me.

    I do like how Maria Doyle Kennedy portrayed her, even if her look was off. Helped that they kept her as a badass that wouldn’t give in, and that the people loved her.

  15. I was waiting to someone to point out that Rosalie Crutchley played Catherine Parr in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) and Elizabeth R (1971)

    1. You beat me to it! (pointing out that Rosalie Crutchley also played Catherine Parr – so she played two of Henry VIII’s Queen Catherines.

  16. My favorite onscreen Catherine of Aragon is Annette Crosbie. I remember how happy she was as Henry VIII/Keith Michell’s bride after the penury that plagued her during the last years of Henry VII’s reign. And then we see her withering in her own body due to miscarriages, stillborn babies, the loss of Henry’s love, without losing her strength of will. Annette Crosbie definitely looked the part; light-haired and curvy. A strong Honorable Mention to Maria Doyle Kennedy for doing a great job in the role of the older Catherine in “The Tudors”, how believable she was as the gracious queen, the loving mother of young Mary, and the wife who would not give up her marriage no matter how Henry pressured and demeaned her.

  17. I know this might be a bit disconnected, but I wonder, why didn’t you like the tv show “Isabel”?

  18. Catherine makes a brief appearance in The White Princess as a child (just throwing that in)

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