Susannah York dies aged 72

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The Independent Online

The son of Susannah York, who has died of cancer, paid tribute to her today as a talented actress with an eclectic career and a "truly wonderful mother".

York became a star of the stage and screen and was best known for her role in 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, for which she won a Bafta and was nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar.



She died at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London yesterday at the age of 72 after suffering from bone marrow cancer.



Her son, the actor Orlando Wells, said she was admitted to hospital on January 6, three days before her birthday, after suffering pain in her shoulder.



"She was obviously an incredibly brave woman, because she didn't complain at all," he said.



He and sister Sasha are in "terrible shock", but he said of his mother: "From Sasha and my point of view, she was absolutely the centre of our lives.



"She was a truly, truly wonderful mother."



York enjoyed a varied career that saw her win acclaim for roles in films including A Man For All Seasons, Battle of Britain and Tom Jones.



In more recent years she was seen on television screens in BBC dramas Holby City and Casualty, as well as continuing her work on the stage.



Speaking from his home in south-west London, Wells said: "What always amazed me about mum was how she managed to garner so many strands of her career.



"There was the glamourous Hollywood aspect - she has worked with everyone from John Huston to Sydney Pollack - as well as the big commercial films like Superman.



"On the other hand, she has also worked in theatres above pubs in Islington.



"She was always prepared to take a risk and to know you can't have a success every time. She was incredibly brave about the artistic choices she made."



York's stunning blue eyes and blonde hair set men's pulses racing and she was one of the best known faces of the swinging sixties.



In 1966's A Man For All Seasons, she played Thomas More's daughter and yelled at Kenneth More as a uniformed section officer in 1969's Battle Of Britain.



She also appeared in Robert Aldrich's film adaptation of Frank Marcus's hit play The Killing of Sister George.



But many critics cited her performance as Childie, the young lesbian, as her most memorable showing.



In 1972 York won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of Cathryn in the picture Images.



Wells, a father of two young children, said: "The other strand she did was write. She wrote two children's books, which is great for her grandchildren and something we will pass on to them.



"She also produced and directed herself, with The Loves of Shakespeare's Women, a one-woman show.



"It was a very eclectic career. She was very audacious in her choices.



"Mum seemed to me incredibly modern at every stage as I grew up. She seemed to grow and change and adapt to the modern world.



"She didn't age. She didn't seem out of date or out of touch."



Being a mother was perhaps her greatest role and York chose not to move to America in the 1980s, instead wanting her children to stay in England. Wells added: "She decided we would live and grow up here. There is no doubt that affected her career. And we have always been very thankful for that."



He described her as a woman who always fought her children's corner and remained patient with them, but "not always to others - she never suffered fools".



She "adored" her grandchildren and gave "complete and unconditional love" to her family, Wells said.



He added: "She was a woman of grace and stature and the utmost generosity - a wonderful woman."













Glenda Jackson, who starred with York in the 1974 production of The Maids, said her death "came as a big shock".



She said: "She seemed too young to go.



"We worked very well together.



"It's very rare when you are in a play or film where it's an all female cast, admittedly only three were in it.



"It was a very interesting production and she was very easy to work with."

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