How Maggie Smith's looks have helped her long career

For 60 years Maggie Smith has been a leading lady on stage and screen. How has she done it? Talent, of course, but there might be something else you hadn't considered.

If you're a fan of the television show "Downton Abbey," you are most likely a fanatic of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, the imperious matriarch of a British aristocratic family - and the source of the most memorable lines in the weekly PBS series.

The Dowager has gained something of a cult following in the three years the show has been on the air, and there are no shortage of online videos and blogs dedicated to her weekly zingers.

For Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the part of the Dowager, Downton has brought a surprising level of fame. "I am familiar to people now, which is what I was not before," she tells Steve Kroft in an interview that will air this Sunday on 60 Minutes.

Smith is perhaps being too modest. At age 78, she has been one of Britain's most distinguished stage and screen actors for 60 years, winning accolades ranging from Dame Commander of the British Empire to a slew of top acting awards.

What accounts for Smith's longevity in a profession famous for casting actors out at the sign of the first wrinkle? Well, in addition to extraordinary talent, it might be those very wrinkles, says Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey. As you'll see in this Overtime clip, Fellowes says that in not having had plastic surgery to preserve her looks, Smith may have preserved her career.

Dame Maggie Smith's television interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, February 17 on CBS at 7pm ET/PT.

Video courtesy of Carnival Films/Masterpiece on PBS
The Downton Abbey series is available for purchase on PBS

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