Soap star Anna Karen dies in fire

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Anna Karen, who starred in the British soap opera EastEnders, died on Tuesday. The 85-year-old actress died in a house fire in east London, her agent has said BBC News. Karen’s film and television career began in the 1960s, her best-known role being Olive in the sitcom 1969-1973. In the buses.

“She was a great actress, a great comedian, and a great soul,” her agent, Shane Collins, told the BBC. London firefighters have confirmed that a woman died in a house fire in Ilford, east London, on Tuesday evening. Police said the fire did not appear suspicious as the investigation continues.

Karen was born in Durban, South Africa and began performing on stage as a teenager. At 17, she moved to London to study at the London School of Dramatic Arts. After several small roles in films, she quickly became a household name when she was cast as Olive Rudge in In the buses. She starred in all 74 episodes of the hit sitcom, which centers on the life of bus driver Stan Butler (Reg Varney) and his family. She also played Olive in the movies In the buses (1971), Mutiny on the buses (1972), and Holidays on the buses (1973). In 1977 and 1978 she starred in the short-lived sequel series The rag trade.

In 1996, Karen was introduced to a new generation of viewers as Aunt Sal on EastEnders. She appeared in 57 episodes of the long-running soap opera from 1996 to 2017. “Anna created a sharp, quick-witted and hugely popular character in Aunt Sal that audiences will never forget, as will those who worked with her. at EastEnders I will never forget her warmth, kindness, fun and good humor,” a spokesperson for the show said Wednesday. “Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.”

By working on EastEnders, Karen befriended the late Dame Barbara Windsor, whose husband Scott Mitchell called Karen a “good friend”. He said they last spoke just a few weeks ago. “Anna was one of three people I asked to speak at Barbara’s funeral. I will remember her outspokenness, humor and intelligence. May she rest in peace “Mitchell told the BBC.

In 1967 Karen married actor Terry Duggan. They lived together in Ilford, east London, until his death in 2008. Karen had no children, but raised Duggan’s daughter from his first marriage, Gloria. Karen broke her back in a fall at home in 2016, and she was wearing a walker when she appeared on EastEnders This year. His last public appearance was at Windsor’s funeral in January 2021.

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