Dora Bryan, who was known for roles in TV’s Last Of The Summer Wine and classic British movies like A Taste Of Honey, has died at the age of 91.
The actress, who was still performing into her 80s, had been living in a nursing home in Hove, East Sussex, in recent years as her health deteriorated.
Her friend and manager David Hill, who confirmed her death, said: “She was razor-sharp with an incredible brain. You were always aware when you were with her that she had been a big star. Dora was very quick-witted and very funny.”
Dora was known to many TV viewers for the five years she spent playing Ros Utterthwaite in BBC One sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine in the twilight of her career, bowing out in 2005.
But during her half century career she took on dozens of other roles appearing on radio in Hancock’s Half Hour, in popular TV shows, cinematic hits and on stage (pictured below, with Bruce Forsyth), even earning an Olivier Award for best supporting actress in 1995 for her performance in The Birthday Party.
Dora, who had become wheelchair-bound, is believed to have died on July 23.
She was born in Southport, Lancashire, and honed her skills as a performer during the Second World War with Ensa, the armed forces entertainment group.
Dora was encouraged to change her original surname of Broadbent by Noel Coward while working in a production of Private Lives, which he wrote.
Film roles included a Carry On film, plus British classics such as The Blue Lamp and The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery.
The actress, renowned for her comic abilities, also appeared in Absolutely Fabulous and had guest roles in Casualty and Heartbeat.
Her husband, the former cricketer Bill Lawton to whom she had been married for 54 years, died in 2008 as a result of Alzheimer’s.
Among those paying tribute was comedian Jenny Eclair who said: “I met Dora Bryan backstage at Theatre, Royal Brighton – she was hilarious within 10 seconds.”
Lionel Blair wrote online: “So very sad to hear of the passing of my good friend Dora Bryan. She was wonderful.”
A gala charity show was staged in her honour at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London in 2009 which featured Sir Cliff Richard with guests such as June Whitfield, Rita Tushingham – with whom she had appeared in A Taste Of Honey – and Joanna Lumley.