Note from Heather: It's with sadness we report that Linda Bellingham died on October 19th. Her death coming just ten days after the publication of her memoir "There's Been Something I've Been Dying To Tell You". According to her agent, Bellingham died "in her husband's arms".
I recently heard some sad news concerning the health of Lynda Bellingham who played the second Mrs. Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. The 68 year old actress has been in the British news after her announcement in July of last year that she had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and her subsequent announcement last month that the cancer has now metastasized to her lungs and liver. Bellingham has chosen to stop her chemotherapy treatment next month, so that she can "have one last Christmas" with her family.
While viewers in this country knew Bellingham mainly through her role in All Creatures, hers was a far more familiar face to the British. To them she was the "Oxo Mum", having played the mother to a fictional family for 16 years, from 1983-1999, in a series of commercials promoting Oxo gravy stock.
Born in Montreal in 1948 to a 29 year old single mother who belonged to a strict church going family, Bellingham was given up for adoption at the age of four months. Her adoptive parents lived in England and it was there that she was raised. Buckingham reunited with her birth mother, who remained in Canada, as an adult, but despite them keeping in touch for many years, was not informed of her death at the age of 94 until after the funeral. Being shut out was devastating to Bellingham, who felt as if she "was being rejected all over again".
Bellingham's relationship with her adoptive parents was a good one and when she decided to become an actress they supported her wholeheartedly. After training at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, Bellingham made her television debut in the 1970's soap opera General Hospital, which was modeled after the American soap of the same name. In the course of a career that spanned over 40 years, Bellingham has acted on television, stage and film. Some of the series you might recall seeing the husky voiced actress in include New Tricks, Midsomer Murders and Doctor Who. Along the way, Bellingham married three times. Her first marriage was in 1975 when she married a film and television producer. His blatant unfaithfulness led to the breakdown of the marriage in less than a year. It also caused Bellingham so much grief that she went into a depression and took an overdose.
Bellingham married again in 1981 to Nunzio Peluso, a Neopolitan restaurateur and the father of her two sons. That also was not a happy marriage, owing largely to Peluso's violent outbursts. Just six weeks after they married, for instance, he broke Bellingham's nose. Peluso continued to bully and threaten Bellingham, even after they were divorced in 1996 and was so persistent in his harassment of her that she had to obtain a court order to keep him away.
In May of 2008 on her 60th birthday, Bellingham married her current husband, Spain-based mortgage broker and property developer Michael Pattemore. Together they have purchased neighboring plots at a Somerset cemetery and have made plans for Bellingham's funeral, which include at Bellingham's request a big party for loved ones after the service. Bellingham has also penned her forthcoming autobiography called There's Something I've Been Dying To Tell You.
Bellingham wrote the book for "everybody who is given that curveball and say of course there are no answers but, if you can, take it and make it positive and talk about dying. If two people read this book and think, 'actually that's how I feel and I'm not on my own', then I'll have done something half decent".
To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117