Dame June Whitfield, the actress who’s best known for her role of Gran/Mother on the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, has sadly passed away.
On Friday evening, Dec. 28, 2018, the legendary comedy actress died peacefully, BBC News reports. She was 93 years old. At the time of this writing, further details surrounding Whitfield’s death have yet to be revealed.
Over the span of her six-decade career, Whitfield accumulated nearly 140 television and film credits to her name after getting her start starring on the British radio comedy Take It from Here in 1953. In addition to her popular role on Absolutely Fabulous, which she reprised in the Ab Fab movie in 2016, the iconic actress split her time between radio and on-screen work, most notably playing memorable characters on Beggar My Neighbour, EastEnders, Terry and June, Doctor Who, Friends, the Carry On film series, and voicing Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple on BBC Radio 4.
Whitfield received her damehood in 2017. At the time, Prince Charles told the actress that the prestigious reward had been “some time coming,” as reported by CNN.
After news of Whitfield’s passing broke, a number of fans and celebs took to the press and social media to share their thoughts and express their condolences — including Absolutely Fabulous creator and star Jennifer Saunders. “It’s so tremendously sad to lose June,” she told the BBC. “I will always be grateful that she agreed to be in Ab Fab. Everything June did was perfectly measured. She was so loved and I will miss her hugely.”
Meanwhile, actress Julia Sawalha, who portrayed Whitfield’s granddaughter on the show, shared a tribute on Twitter, writing, “Thank you #damejunewhitfield, for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity. I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my adoration. You were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.”
As comedian Miranda Hart tweeted, “So very sad. I once sent a letter to many actors as a budding (I mean desperate) comedy actor to ask for sponsorship for the Edinburgh Festival. Dame June replied. Fifteen years later when I met her she had all my letters and the notes of the show she sponsored. I cried then too.”
According to Entertainment Tonight, Whitfield is survived by her daughter, Suzy.
Our thoughts are with Whitfield’s loved ones during this difficult time.