Dame June Whitfield, a longtime fixture of British television best known today for her role in Absolutely Fabulous, died on Friday at the age of 93.
Her agent told BBC News she died peacefully Friday night.
Whitfield was born in London to a telephone company executive and an amateur actress. She earned her first professional acting job in 1944 and went on to appear in just about every conceivable form of entertainment media, from radio to television. Whitfield became well-known for her comic performances and appeared in four Carry On films.
Aside from her Carry On films, Whitfield rarely ever appeared on the big screen. Instead, she appeared in more than 1,300 episodes of radio and television shows in her seven-decade career. She starred on The Best Things In Life (1969-1970), Scott On... (1968-1974), The Dick Emery Show (1969-1974), Happy Ever After (1974-1978) and Terry and June (1979-1987).
Some of Whitfield's greatest successes came with Terry Scott, with whom she built a chemistry audiences loved. According to the BBC, their series Terry and June drew as much as 18 million viewers during its run. The two first appeared together on Scott On...
In 1992, Whitfield found a new audience on the cult series Absolutely Fabulous, created by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Whitfield played the mother of Saunders' Edinta Monsoon. She was originally only set to appear in one episode, but became a fixture on the show. She appeared in 36 of the show's 39 episodes.
"Thank you #[Dame June Whitfield], for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity," Julia Sawalha, who played Whitfield's granddaughter on Absolutely Fabulous, tweeted Saturday. "I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my adoration.You were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran."
Whitfield made her final appearances in 2016, starring in episodes of EastEnders and Boomers. She also starred in the Absolutely Fabulous movie in 2016.
"Her spectacular career is unparalleled in its longevity, with seven decades of being a key element in numerous high profile and successful shows," Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said in a statement. "She was the go-to female comedy performer of her generation and was always in demand from the cream of British comedy."
Following news of her death, celebrities took to social media to remember her work.
"June Whitfield's incredible career in British comedy stretched all the way from Hancock’s Half Hour to Absolutely Fabulous. She was always there, always being brilliant," actor and comedian, David Walliams wrote.
"RIP the fabulously brilliant June Whitfield who has died aged 93. I comedy icon who made so many laugh over a long and glittering career," added Stuart Anthony.
"Very sad to hear of the death of #JuneWhitfield - one of the nation's most beloved comedy actresses - Carry Ons, Terry & June and too many more to list. Sure she'll be making them laugh in heaven now," Jonathan Sothcott wrote.
"So very sad. I once sent a letter to many actors as a budding (I mean desperate) comedy actor to ask for sponsorship for the Edinburgh Festival. Dame June replied," Miranda Hart tweeted. "Fifteen years later when I met her she had all my letters and the notes of the show she sponsored. I cried then too."0comments
Whitfield was married to Tim Aitchison from 1955 until his death in 2001. Their daughter, Suzy Aitchison, starred on the BBC sitcom Jam & Jerusalem.
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