Jean Alexander, who played Coronation Street’s much-loved Hilda Ogden, has died three days after her 90th birthday
The actress, who starred in Corrie from 1964 to 1987, died in hospital in Southport.
Her niece, Sonia Herald, 64, who lives in Selby, North Yorkshire, said: “My aunt died sadly earlier today [Friday].
“I saw her last week, in hospital. She was feeling a little bit poorly but she was talking to me quite happily.
“There was nothing telling us anything was wrong, she was just generally weak and under the weather.
“We have not had any details.”
Corrie stars past and present have been paying tribute to the woman who made us laugh and cry as busybody Hilda Ogden, usually seen in curlers and a headscarf and often strangling a song.
Liverpool-born Jean Alexander’s final appearance in Corrie as Hilda Ogden, on Christmas Day, 1987, was watched by 27 million viewers.
From 1988 to 2010, she made regular appearances in Last of the Summer Wine as Auntie Wainwright, and had roles in Where The Heart Is, Heartbeat, Rich Tea and Sympathy and The Phoenix and the Carpet.
Her last role was as Agnes in the American-made TV movie Eugene! in 2012.
She retired from acting after that and suffered a stroke two years later.
She was honoured by BAFTA and The Royal Television Society during her career and in 2005 she was one voted Britain’s Greatest Soap Opera Star of all time.
Away from her career, Jean lived a quiet life in a house in Southport she once shared with her mother.
“I was too busy to find a boyfriend,” she once said. “I didn’t want to be looked after by anyone. I wanted to do it all myself.”
She was born in Toxteth, Liverpool on October 11 1926, to “hadworking, churchgoing” parents.
“Being poor didn’t do you any harm,” Jean once said. “You just tried to better yourselves.”
And her way of doing that was to act.
She went from working in libraries to a job in the Adelphi Theatre in Macclesfield and by 1949 she was her family’s main breadwinner.
She made her first, brief appearance in Corrie as landlady Mrs Webb. Two years later, in 1964, she was back as Hilda Ogden, wife of window-cleaner Stan, and this time she stayed.
Jean once said of Hilda: “She was a downtrodden, poor little soul, plodding away, doing her best all the time, always aspiring to better things.
“Taking that part changed my life.”
And it changed Coronation Street… Fans still miss Hilda and will never forget her or Jean Alexander, the actress who found Hilda a place in the hearts of millions of Corrie fans.
Ta-ra, Chuck. RIP.