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'Absolutely Fabulous' actress Dora Bryan dies, aged 91

2014-07-24
abfabMuch-loved English actress Dora Bryan (pictured, with June Whitfield in Absolutely Fabulous) has died at the age of 91. Lancashire-born Bryan made her stage debut aged just 12, and trod the boards in the West End regularly before winning roles in a string of British films in the 1950s and 1960s, including Carry On Sergeant and The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery. In 1962, she won a BAFTA award for her big screen role as a domineering, alcoholic mother in the "kitchen sink" drama A Taste Of Honey. In 1996, she was made an OBE for services to drama. Some of Bryan's best-known roles came later in her career, when she played tracksuit-clad Dolly/Millie in three episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and starred as Ros Utterthwaite in 50 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine from 2000-5. She also appeared in an episode of Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies. Bryan later suffered from short-term memory loss that affected her ability to learn lines, which led to her retirement from acting in 2006. Her final role was in the 2006 British film Gone to the Dogs alongside actor (and Tony Blair's father-in-law) Antony Booth. Bryan was married to former Lancashire and Cumberland cricketer Bill Lawton for 54 years until his death in 2008. She is survived by her two sons and passed awayat a hospital in Brighton, the town she had lived in for many years. "It was heartbreaking but it was peaceful," Bryan's son Daniel said of her passing in an interview with Brighton's Argus Newspaper. "She was a tiny woman but her constitution was incredible. She loved being on stage, that's what she wanted. Not only did she do it, but she was good at it. He added: "She was a star, and a mum." Lionel Blair, with whom Bryan co-starred many times over the years, led the tributes to the actress on Twitter, posting: Another Absolutely Fabulous cast member, Christopher Malcolm, passed away in February - read more about his life and career here.