Lynn Redgrave, star of 'Georgy Girl', dies of breast cancer

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The Independent Culture

Lynn Redgrave, part of the great British acting dynasty, who became a symbol of the 1960s for her free-thinking character in the film Georgy Girl has died of breast cancer aged 67.

Her son, Ben, and daughters, Kelly and Annabel, were with her when she died in Connecticut on Sunday. Yesterday, they released a statement mourning her loss. "Our beloved mother Lynn Rachel passed away peacefully after a seven-year journey with breast cancer," they said.

The news comes less than a month after the death of her older brother, Corin Redgrave, also an actor, who died of cancer on 6 April, and a year after her niece, the actress Natasha Richardson, died from head injuries sustained in a skiing accident.

Redgrave had spoken at her brother's funeral, recalling that he had taught her how to climb trees without telling her how to get back down again.

She was the third child of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Her older sister is Vanessa Redgrave.

The director Michael Winner, who cast Redgrave in one of her first films, said she had been "a joy".

"This is terrible news, I've known her for more than 50 years," he said. "She was a phenomenal actress, she could do comedy, tragedy – anything really – with absolute ease. Even then you could see she had a bubbly quality. She was a wonderful person and a brave woman involved in many causes."

Sir Michael Parkinson expressed his sadness at the news. "She was maybe the jolliest and most likeable of all the family," he said. "She was a lovely, funny, open character, she was very easy to get on with. She was a good actress, but being a Redgrave I suppose she couldn't help it – it's in their blood, in their marrow."

Known to be introspective, independent and modest, she spoke of her talented siblings in 1999, saying: "Vanessa was the one expected to be the great actress. It was always, 'Corin's the brain, Vanessa the shining star, oh, and then there's Lynn'."

In 1967, Redgrave married the actor and director John Clark. They divorced in 2000. Over the years, she had discussed her health problems associated with bulimia and breast cancer, the latter of which resulted in a mastectomy. She was first treated for the illness in 2003.

While she may not have had the profile of her elder siblings, she was an actress of high acclaim in her own right. She received Oscar nominations for Georgy Girl, which earned her popular acclaim, and for Gods and Monsters, as well as Tony nominations for the stage plays Mrs Warren's Profession, Shakespeare for My Father and The Constant Wife. In 1991, she starred with her sister in a stage performance of Chekhov's Three Sisters, at the Queen's Theatre. Redgrave was awarded an OBE for her services to drama in 2002.

It was Georgy Girl that made her a household name in 1966, with her starring character – a free-spirited 22-year-old working-class woman – encapsulating the spirit of the age. Based on a novel by Margaret Forster, it also starred Alan Bates, James Mason and Charlotte Rampling.

Having trained as an actress in London, at the Central School of Speech and Drama, she made her theatrical debut in 1962 at the Royal Court Theatre, where she performed in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

She was invited to join the National Theatre for its inaugural season at the Old Vic in the early 1960s, working with such acclaimed directors as Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli and Noel Coward.

As well as her stage career, she appeared in numerous films and television shows, including one-off appearances in Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, and most recently, the romantic drama The Jane Austen Book Club, in 2007.

Redgrave made a return to films in the late 1990s in movies such as Shine, in 1996, based on the life of the pianist David Helfgott, and Gods and Monsters in 1998, a film that dramatised the last days of the life of the troubled homosexual film director James Whale, which starred Ian McKellen.