TRIBUTES have been paid to the actress Dora Bryan, who died yesterday aged 91.
The stage and screen star, who was in Last Of The Summer Wine, the St Trinian’s films and Absolutely Fabulous, passed away at 12.30pm at the Royal Sussex County Hospital after being admitted with a chest infection two days before. She was in the company of her two sons, Daniel and William Lawton.
Daniel said: “It is heartbreaking but it was peaceful. She just left us.
“She would always say ‘God bless’ – that will always stick in my mind.”
Mrs Bryan’s 70-year career spans performing panto from the age of 12 up until her final episodes of Last Of The Summer Wine in 2005.
For a time she was the country’s highest-paid star.
Daniel added: “She loved being on stage, that’s what she wanted. Not only did she do it, but she was good at it.
“She wasn’t a housewife but every night she came back home to the family.
“She was a star, and a mum.”
Michael Thornton, a national film and theatre critic, remembers her best-known work.
He said: “She had an amazing life, an irrational blend of highlights and tragedies.”
Mrs Bryan won a Bafta for Best Actress as a depressed single mother in the film A Taste Of Honey, which Mr Thornton rates as her finest hour, and a Laurence Olivier Award for stage production The Birthday Party.
Her last agent and manager, David Hill, who lives in Hove, said Mrs Bryan was a “special talent” with “a huge heart”.
Dora Bryan received an OBE from the Queen in 1996. In her later life she lived in Clarges, a hotel run by her husband Bill Lawton and son William, along with Bill’s sister and husband.
Prior to her death she had been living at Springfields Nursing Home in Hove, which she moved into with her husband.
Bill passed away on September 14, 2008.