Brown Bread: Susannah York

Susannah York, the celebrated film and stage actress best known for her role in the film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? , has died aged 72.

Her son, the actor Orlando Wells said that she was “very down to earth”.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “She loved nothing more than cooking a good Sunday roast and sitting around a fire of a winter’s evening. In some sense, she was quite a home girl. Both Sasha [Orlando’s sister] and I feel incredibly lucky to have her as a mother.”

Her screen presence was natural and attractive; in no way connected with the Rank School of Charm and clipped speech which was the norm in the post-war era and she had an extensive film career in the 60s and 70s, particularly in Tom Jones (1963) and The Killing of Sister George (1968).

I thought she was great as Jane Eyre. As it is one of my favourite books, I’m very fussy about who plays Jane. She was one of the best.

Her performance in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? made a very strong impression on me when I was in my teens. Lovely and talented.

When I worked in London back in the day, I was on the Northern Line with a friend and saw her sitting opposite us. She looked so familiar. However, we were convinced she was Susan George (well, confusion on our part regarding blonde 60s actresses).

So, emboldened, I asked her “Excuse me, are you Susan George?” She replied politely “No, sorry.”

At that point, I felt an utter fool so I apologised profusely and explained “Sorry, we just thought you looked like an actress called Susan George.”

Her reply was beautiful. “Oh. Actually I think I look more like Susannah York,” which was accompanied by the most mischievous grin, telling us we were even bigger fools than we felt. She said goodbye to us as we got off at Tooting.

R.I.P. Susannah York (Susannah Yolande Fletcher) 1939-2011


One Response to “Brown Bread: Susannah York”

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