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Actress Anna Massey dies

Veteran actress Anna Massey has died at the age of 73, her agent said.

Massey won a string of awards for her stage and TV roles, including a Bafta for her performance as a lonely spinster in the 1986 TV adaptation of Hotel du Lac.

Her agent said in a statement: "Actress Anna Massey CBE passed away peacefully on Sunday 3rd July, with her husband and son by her side.

"She will be remembered as a loving wife and mother, a cherished grandmother, a generous colleague and, always, a consummate professional. She will be greatly missed."

Massey's film work included roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, Possession with Gwyneth Paltrow and the adaptation of The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Massey, who was well known for her supporting roles, often playing a spurned or repressed maiden aunt, had been suffering from cancer, her agent said later.

She received a CBE for services to drama at Buckingham Palace in 2005.

Divorced from the late actor Jeremy Brett, she was alone for 27 years until she met Russian scientist Uri Andres at a dinner party and married him three months later.

Massey's TV period dramas included Tess Of The D'Urbervilles in 2008, Oliver Twist in 2007, and the BBC's version of Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right in 2004.

Most recently, she appeared in Poirot and Midsomer Murders in 2009.

In 2006, she played Baroness Thatcher in the TV film Pinochet In Suburbia.

Massey was born into the business - both her parents were actors, while her godfather was the veteran director John Ford.

Her father, Canadian actor Raymond Massey, walked out when Massey was one, and remained "the glamorous film star who lived far away".

Her mother, actress Adrianne Allen, delegated much of the childcare to a nanny.

Massey drafted in her own former nanny to look after her son David when her marriage to Brett - who is said to have left her for a man and went on to play TV's Sherlock Holmes - ended.

But when the nanny died in 1965, Massey was on her way to a nervous breakdown and her hair turned white overnight.

She suffered from severe stage fright and anorexia, but continued to perform, often helped by pills.

Massey underwent psychoanalysis, saying later it was "an absolute life-saver" and that without it she "would probably have ended up in some clinic".

Massey made her stage debut at the age of 18 in The Reluctant Debutante playing the lead.

Her film debut came three years later in Gideon's Day, directed by Ford, and she starred as the murderous cameraman's girlfriend in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom in 1960.

She has appeared in numerous plays including The Doctor's Dilemma, School For Scandal, The Glass Menagerie and The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie.

One of her last film roles was Miss Prism in The Importance Of Being Earnest, which starred Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon, in 2002.

Despite such a prolific career, Massey once said: "I find acting incredibly difficult - it demands much more of my time than it does for some people.

"I'm not instinctive. It takes enormous discipline and bravery to get me there."