Rachel Claire Ward, AM (born 12 September 1957) is an English actress (and more recently, a director) who has primarily pursued her career in Australia.
Ward was born at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 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 Art in London 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 States.
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. She also starred in the films Sharky's Machine with Burt Reynolds, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid with Steve Martin and Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges.