Dame June Whitfield: 1925-2018
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of January 7, 2019
This week we pay tribute to Dame June Whitfield, who passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 28th at the age of 93.
Dame June Whitfield
After a career that spanned almost 70 years, Whitfield only stopped acting a couple of years ago. Her last role was in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. In it, she played ‘Mother’ to Jennifer Saunders’ character Edwina, a role she had first performed in 1992 when the television series began. "Ab Fab" ran for 20 years, during which time Whitfield also joined the cast of another long running series, Last of the Summer Wine, in which she played Nelly.
With Terry Scott in Terry and June
The last series Whitfield appeared in was one called Boomers, which debuted in the U.K. in 2014 and is a comedy about a group of three friends coming to terms with retirement. That was just one of many television shows Whitfield was in after Ab Fab, including three episodes of EastEnders, in which she played a nun called Sister Ruth. In fact, Whitfield’s post-Ab Fab roles were so numerous that they provided her with more work than she had had after her first major hit comedy television series Terry and June, which ran from 1979-87. In total, Whitfield’s films, tv and radio shows totaled 1,300!
Early in her career
Before becoming a well-known face to television viewers, Whitfield was also a stage actress, which is where she began her professional acting career back in the 1940s. As a child, Whitfield had been encouraged to perform by her mother who was an amateur actress and who enrolled her in classes starting at the age of three. When she was 17-years-old Whitfield honed her craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and a year after enrolling she married her husband Tim Aitchison, who died in 2001 and with whom she had a daughter, Suzy, who is also an actress.
Whitfield with Jennifer Saunders
After her husband’s death, Whitfield stayed in their home in South London, before it became hard for her to get around and she had to move into a care home in 2017. Whitfield reportedly enjoyed her time in the home because as well as having friends there, it meant she no longer had to “worry about things like the roof or the plumbing any more”.
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