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01/16/2011

Actress Susannah York dies at 72

January 16, 2011 |  6:13 am

York British actress Susannah York, one of the leading stars of British and Hollywood films in the late 1960s and early 1970s, has died. She was 72.

York died of cancer Saturday at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said her son, actor Orlando Wells.  He said York went into the hospital on Jan. 6 after experiencing shoulder pain.

York had a distinguished career in film, television and on stage, but she is best remembered for her early film roles, when she had an immediate impact in 1963 as Albert Finney's love interest in the memorable period piece romp “Tom Jones.”

With its tongue-in-cheek sensuality and gentle send-up of the British aristocracy, the film is remembered as an early landmark in ‘60s cinema, and York's unmistakable presence added to its appeal. Her long blond hair, stunning blue eyes and quick-witted repartee brought her a string of excellent roles.

York was nominated for an Oscar for the 1969 film “They Shoot Horses, Don't They?” and also starred in “A Man for All Seasons” in 1966.

She acted with major stars such as Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, George C. Scott and many others, stirring some controversy with her portrayal of a lesbian in the 1968 drama “The Killing of Sister George.”

In 1972 York won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Her film work tailed off as London's swinging '60s era faded into cultural history, but she did play Superman's mother in several of the films.

She moved on to television and stage work, which included several one-woman shows.

Wells said his mother also had a passion for writing.

“She wrote two children's books, which is great for her grandchildren and something we will pass on to them,” Wells said.

York was born in London and studied at the storied Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which has tutored many of Britain's top actors.

In addition to her son, York had a daughter, Sasha ,with her husband, Michael Wells, before they divorced. She is survived by her children and several grandchildren.

More later at latimes.com/obituaries.

--Associated Press

Photo: Susannah York in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Credit: Associated Press

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