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Tributes paid to actress and Sussex animal sanctuary founder Alexandra Bastedo
Tributes have poured in for former actress and animal sanctuary owner Alexandra Bastedo.
Best known for her roles in TV show The Champions and films including Casino Royale, the 67-year-old died on Sunday following a long battle with cancer.
Having been whisked off to Hollywood aged 16, she enjoyed a jet-set lifestyle mixing with the likes of Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen.
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But despite her success she gave it all up for her first love and launched the ABC Animal Sanctuary in West Chiltington.
Stacey McSpirit, who runs the Paws Animal Sanctuary in Findon, said: “It’s a terrible shock; she was my best friend.
“She had battled cancer four times and we all thought she would get over it again.
“I went round to hers for dinner before Christmas and she said she was going to Los Angeles for treatment. It has come as such a shock.”
Born in Hove in 1946, she studied at Brighton and Hove High School.
As a teenager she worked at a local vets but was soon discovered by Columbia Pictures and flown to Hollywood aged 16.
In an interview with The Argus in September 2012, she spoke about her glamorous early life. She said: “I once danced with Marlon Brando, went on a double date with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and was chatted up by Steve McQueen.
“I was auditioning for his film and he said to me, ‘Baby, you should be with a winner’.
“I wasn’t having it – I was a well-brought-up Brighton and Hove High schoolgirl.”
She was soon the toast of Hollywood and owned apartments in Madrid, Toronto and London.
As well as also in a variety of films and TV shows, she was a favoured presenter hosting Miss World and other events.
Still only in her 20s, she estimated she would be on an airplane every ten days.
But in the early 1980s she moved back home to Sussex She married then artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre, Patrick Garland, and they bought an old farmhouse and set up ABC Animal Sanctuary.
Over the years she has helped rescue hundreds of cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, horses and guinea pigs.
And while she would take on the occasional role at her husband’s theatre, she was more likely to be seen up to her knees in manure than treading the boards.
Ms McSpirit added: “She was such a hard worker. Even though she was ill she had so many exciting plans for that place.
“She loved animals and would do anything for them. She was incredible.”
As well as running her own charity, she acted as patron for numerous others including Compassion in World Farming.
Phillip Lymbery, chief executive, said: “She used her celebrity status to raise the profile of the charity, but was certainly not afraid to get stuck in.
“She was a real grafter and, more than anything, a shining beacon of compassion.”
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