Actress Susannah York dies after battle with cancer

The British actress Susannah York has died aged 72.

York, who was best known for her role opposite Jane Fonda in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, passed away following a long battle with cancer.

Following her death, the actress’ son Orlando Wells said, ‘She was an absolutely fantastic mother, who was very down to earth.

‘She was a woman with grace and stature. She had advanced bone marrow cancer which she had an operation for.

‘But, last Thursday, she had a scan and then the descent was fast.

‘In the end, her death was painless and quick.’

An English rose with her blonde hair, blue eyes and fresh-faced complexion, she became one of the most recognisable actresses in the 1960s, winning a swathe of male admirers.

Playwright Tom Stoppard said, ‘I remember back in 1961 when I was a young journalist, I interviewed her for a magazine for her film Greengage Summer, and I still remember how completely charmed I was.’

As well as starring in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, a role for which she received an Oscar nomination, York  achieved international fame in classic movies such as Tom Jones and A Man For All Season.

She starred opposite the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Peter O’Toole.

York is also well known for her extensive stage career, which included roles in critically-acclaimed plays including The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs and Henry James play Appearances.

Wells said, ‘She was as happy in a pub theatre in Islington as she was in Hollywood.’

She told Reuters in a 2001 interview that theatre was her real love, adding: ‘This is where I belong’.

In addition, York tried her hand at writing, penning two children’s fantasy novels entitled In Search of Unicorns in 1973 and Lark’s Castle in 1976.

She was also an ardent anti-nuclear campaigner, having vigorously worked for the release of Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.

Vanunu disclosed secrets that revealed the Jewish state was building atomic bombs and was in Israel when he was finally set free in 2004 after 18 years in jail.

It was in 1960 that York met and married Michael Wells, with whom she had two children, Orlando and Sasha.

Family was a very important part of York’s life, as she explained in an interview in 2008.

She told The Telegraph: ”Seeing the family is a very important part of my weekend.

‘I see a lot of my daughter Sasha and my son Orlando.

‘We all live quite close to each other on different sides of Clapham Common in south London.

‘My grandson, Rafferty, is absolutely lovely. He’s a year old and there’s another child on the way.’

York and Wells divorced in 1976 and she never remarried.

York is survived by her two children, as well as a grandson and a granddaughter.

by John Jackson

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