The Kray’s Star Actress Billie Whitelaw Dies at 82

By on December 22, 2014

Martin and Gary Kemp have led the tributes to their The Krays co-star Billie Whitelaw, who has died aged 82.

The actress, who starred in The Omen and also worked alongside Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, won seven Bafta awards throughout her career and was made a CBE in 1991.

Whitelaw, who was born in Coventry, died in the early hours of this morning at a nursing home in London, her son Matthew Muller said.

‘I could not have asked for a more loving mum,’ he told the BBC.

‘She had an incredible career – but first and foremost she was my mum – and that’s who I will miss.’

The Krays co-stars Gary and Martin Kemp led the tributes, with Martin tweeting: ‘Desperately sad to hear the newsmy [sic] dear Billie Whitelaw an honour to get to know you on The Krays #RIPBillieWhitelaw’

Gary added: ‘Deeply saddened that Billie Whitelaw has died. I’ll always remember her as a generous and towering actor, and ‘Mum’.’

Stars including actor Paddy Considine and Boy George also paid their respects on Twitter last night.

Actor and comedian Reece Shearsmith said: ‘Goodbye Mrs Baylock. RIP the amazing Billie Whitelaw.’

After training at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Whitelaw made her stage debut when she was 18.

Her first film roles came in The Sleeping Tiger, in 1954, followed by Carve Her Name With Pride and Hell Is a City.

She met Samuel Beckett in 1963, working with him until the playwright’s death. He called her ‘a perfect actress’.

Before long she was a regular in British films, gaining international acclaim for her performance as Mrs Baylock, the evil guardian of Damien – a devil child – in The Omen in 1976.

Whitelaw earned a Bafta for her performance – one of seven throughout her career in film and television.

She went on to star in The Krays alongside Gary and Martin Kemp in 1990, and made a recent appearance in police comedy film Hot Fuzz in 2007.

In a 1996 interview, Whitelaw, who suffered from stage fright, said she was finished with acting.

She said: ‘I’m not really interested in acting anymore. It’s not the centre of my life. I always thought it was a bit of a fibbertigibbety occupation.’

In an interview with the Independent in 1997 she revealed that she was not overly concerned about dying.

‘Oh, no. Death’s not one of those things that frighten the life out of me,’ she explained.

‘Getting up on stage with the curtain going up frightens me more.’

Whitelaw, who lived in Hampstead in her later years, was married to the actor Peter Vaughan from 1952 to 1966 and, until his death, to the writer and drama critic Robert Muller.

She leaves behind Matthew, her only child.


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