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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 22:48 GMT
Actress Dame Thora Hird dies
Dame Thora Hird
Dame Thora Hird was a presenter of Songs of Praise

Actress Dame Thora Hird has died at the age of 91, her agent confirmed on Saturday.

The veteran actress, who starred in Last Of The Summer Wine, suffered a stroke earlier this month at her London nursing home.

The much-loved actress was known to millions for starring in sitcoms like 1960s favourite Meet the Wife, playing Thora Blacklock, and In Loving Memory playing Ivy in the late 1970s.

She was a lovely, lovely woman and very talented
Michael Parkinson

She joined Last of the Summer Wine in 1985, starring as the gossiping Aunt Edie Pegden.

Among the first to pay tribute was BBC TV chat show host Michael Parkinson, who said: "Dame Thora was a wonderful old lady.

'Loved'

"As a person she was a rich and wonderful character, as an actor she had few equals."

"She was a lovely, lovely woman and very talented," he added.

Dame Thora had been living at Brinsworth House, a retirement home for actors in south-west London.

Her long-standing agent, Felix de Wolfe, broke the news on Saturday.

'National treasure'

He said: "Thora was loved by all. Everyone felt that they knew her through her work, and today, the entertainment industry and Britain has lost one of its true original stars."

Staff at the BBC also paid tribute to Dame Thora.

Dame Thora Hird pictured with the late Sir Harry Secombe
Dame Thora Hird had many friends in the entertainment world

Alan Yentob, Director of Drama, Entertainment and Children's programmes, said: "Thora Hird was a national treasure. She was universally admired and adored by the British public, and rightly so."

He said one of the highlights of her career was her "masterly partnership" with the writer Alan Bennett in the TV series Talking Heads.

Alan Bell, producer of Last of the Summer Wine, said Dame Thora was "a joy to work with".

The triple Bafta-winning actress was born in Morecambe, Lancashire, she made her acting debut at the age of two months in 1911 when she was carried onto the stage in a play directed by her father.

'Faithful person'

Her winning monologue in Alan Bennett's Waiting for the Telegram was a convincing, tailor-made performance.

Her religious convictions also led her to present Sunday TV shows such as Praise Be and Songs Of Praise.

It was through her TV career that she became a household name

The Archbishop of York Dr David Hope who worked closely with Dame Thora over the years paid tribute to her religious convictions and personality.

"We thank God for the life of Dame Thora, she was a truly gifted actress and extremely faithful person," he said.

Dame Thora was was regularly seen on TV and in magazine ads as the face of Churchill's stairlifts.

She was made a dame in 1993.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Chris Jones
"Thora Hird appeared in more than 100 films"



SEE ALSO:
Obituary: Dame Thora Hird
15 Mar 03 |  UK
Thora Hird: Your tributes
15 Mar 03 |  Have Your Say
Thora Hird suffers stroke
11 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Dame Thora's awards double
22 Mar 00 |  Entertainment


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