British actress Susannah York dies aged 72

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 12:54 PM IST

London: British actress Susannah York, best known for her roles in the film ‘They Shoot Horses, Don`t They?’ and as the mother of Superman, has passed away. She was 72.

Her son, actor Orlando Wells, said York died on Saturday from advanced bone marrow cancer, reports the Telegraph.

“She was an absolutely fantastic mother, who was very down to earth. 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,” he said.

Wells and his sister were near the veteran actress when she died.

“She was a woman with grace and stature. She had advanced bone marrow cancer which she had an operation for. But, last Thursday, she had a scan and then the descent was fast. In the end, her death was painless and quick,” he added.

Born as Susannah Yolande Fletcher in London in January 1939, York was the blue-eyed English rose with the china-white skin and cupid lips who epitomised the sensuality of the swinging Sixties and won a swathe of male admirers.

Her wide-ranging career, which won her both a Bafta and an Oscar nomination, oscillated between powerful portrayals of either the dutiful woman or the wanton wife.

A star of film, TV and theatre, York````s career began in the 1960s with a collection of classic movies including ‘A Man for All Seasons’ (1966) and Battle of Britain (1969).

When she won the role of Alec Guinness````s daughter in ‘Tunes of Glory’ (1960), she received rapturous reviews. She went on to appear with Glenda Jackson in ‘The Maids’ (1974), and with Elizabeth Taylor (whom she called the world````s most beautiful woman) in ‘Zee and Co’ (1972).

York played Superman````s mother in Superman (1978) and also starred in two sequels.

On the small screen, too, her star shone bright. She appeared in ‘Prince Regent’ (1979), as Mrs Fitzherbert, and in ‘We````ll Meet Again’ in 1982. But as she aged, her career waned.

In the late 1980s, in deep humiliation, she was forced to sell deeply cherished paintings and jewellery to pay her mortgage.

When she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for ‘They
Shoot Horses, Don````t They?’, she famously snubbed the Academy by declaring that it offended her to be nominated without being asked.

Outside her professional work, she espoused many causes such as CND and the rainforests.

In 1960, York married Michael Wells, with whom she had two children, Orlando and Sasha. They divorced in 1976 and she never remarried.

ANI