Dorothy Tutin dies of leukaemia at 71

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The Independent Culture

Dame Dorothy Tutin, whose distinctive voice and stage presence won plaudits in an acting career spanning more than half a century, died in hospital on Monday, aged 71. She had been suffering from leukaemia.

Sir John Mills, who worked with her on stage and screen, said: "She was one of our greatest actresses, one of the best we ever had. It is a very great loss."

Dame Dorothy, who was born in London, did not aspire to be an actress but was encouraged by her parents after stepping into a school play when another girl went sick. She was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but remained unconvinced about her ability. She said later: "I terribly wanted to be good at something and thought 'I'm not going to be any good as an actress'."

At the age of 23, her performance in Graham Greene's The Living Room was hailed by the critic Kenneth Tynan as "ablaze like a diamond". She went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in films and television drama.

She was appointed CBE in 1967 and became a dame last year. She leaves a husband, Derek Waring, and two children, Nick and Amanda.