Petworth's June Whitfield dies: friend pays tribute to 'adorable' icon

Richard Taylor, 75, with his friend Dame June Whitfield, who died on Friday aged 93. The photo was taken two weeks ago.
Richard Taylor, 75, with his friend Dame June Whitfield, who died on Friday aged 93. The photo was taken two weeks ago.

A longtime friend of June Whitfield, who has links to Petworth, has paid tribute to the 'adorable' comedy icon in the wake of her death.

National media outlets have reported that the actress died peacefully on Friday night, aged 93.

The television and radio star's career spanned six decades, with notable successes including Terry and June and as Edina Monsoon's mother in Absolutely Fabulous.

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According to her friend Richard Taylor, who knew her for 40 years, the Wimbledon-based actress also had a home in Petworth for the last 15 years of her life, having previously lived in the villages of Plaistow and Tillington in the Chichester district.

He described his friend as 'adorable' and said her death had come as a shock as she was well when he saw her two weeks ago, on the day they were pictured together (above).

He said: "She had 93 years of amazing health and a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter."

The 75-year-old, who lives in Whithurst Park, Plaistow, said June had opened many fetes in the area, and remembered how 35 years ago she opened a garden party at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow to fund research into HIV and Aids.

According to her IMDb page, she also performed at the Chichester Festival Theatre several times, including in 1982 in their pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk and again in 1987, in Oscar Wilde's play An Ideal Husband - which also featured her future Absolutely Fabulous co-star Joanna Lumley.

Richard said that despite her credentials, which earned her a damehood when she was 92, she was remarkably down to earth.

He said: "She was the most unactressy of actresses you come come across.

"You know how actresses can be... she was just a real person."

He had many fond memories of her, but it was the qualities which made her a household name that he cherished. He said: "She just had the most wonderful sense of humour. She would mimic people incredibly well."