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Mollie Sugden Dead At Age 86

Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Betty Slocumbe

Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Betty Slocumbe

L-R: Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Slocumbe, John Inman as Mr. Humphries, and Frank Thronton as Captain Peacock

L-R: Mollie Sugden as Mrs. Slocumbe, John Inman as Mr. Humphries, and Frank Thronton as Captain Peacock

Mollie Sugden, Star

of Are You Being

Served?

Dead At Age 86

Sad news from across the pond. Comedic actress Mollie Sugden passed away July 1, 2009.

The Yorkshire, England born star of the hugely popular Brit-com Are You Being Served? passed away after a long illness in the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guilford.  According to her agent Joan Reddin, Ms. Sugden’s twin boys Simon and Robin Moore were at her bedside when she passed.

Mollie Sugden was 86 years of age.

Ms. Reddin began representing Mollie in the 1960′s, more than a decade before she became famous for the role of Mrs. Betty Slocumbe on Are You Being Served? “She was a lovely, lovely person” Reddin said.

Mollie was born Mary Isobel Sugden on July 21, 1922, and at the young age of 4, she realized she had the gift to make people laugh when at a village concert she heard a woman reading a poem which was making the audience roar with laughter. The following Christmas when she was asked if she could do something, she got up on a chair, read the poem, and had everyone rolling on the floor in laughter. Later in life she recalled that incident and “realized how wonderful it was to make people laugh.”

And the rest, as they say is history.

Mollie Sugden’s first regular sitcom role was from 1962 to 1966 when she played Mrs. Crispin in the sitcom Hugh and I.  Molly also played the role of Mrs. Hutchinson on The Liver Birds from 1971-79, and in 1996 when the series was revived.

But by far the biggest role of Mollie’s career was that of Mrs. Betty Slocumbe of the fictional Grace Brother’s Department Store on Are You Being Served? the long running BBC hit sitcom which ran from 1972-1985, and was a huge hit, maybe even more so here in the United States, and still is. The role gave her nation-wide fame as the department store saleswoman with the superior attitude, a repertoire of double entendres, a passion for bouffant, pastel colored hairdos, and of course, her pussy “Tiddles”. That’s her pet pussycat, of course.

Fans of Are You Being Served? will remember that the show was spun-off in 1992 as Grace and Favour, or Are You Being Served, Again? here in America and Mollie and Frank reprised their roles for the spin-off as well as did co-stars John Inman who played Mr. Humphries and Wendy Richard who played Miss Brahams.  Sadly, Wendy passed away of breast cancer at age 65 on February 26, 2009, and John Inman passed away at age 71 on March 8, 2007 from complications due to Hepatitis A.

L-R: Wendy Richard as "Miss Brahams" and Mollie as "Mrs. Slocumbe"

L-R: Wendy Richard as "Miss Brahams" and Mollie as "Mrs. Slocumbe"

Molly was married to actor William Moore whom she met in 1956 when she worked in the theatre. She was 35 and he was 39, and two years later they were married.  Mollie gave birth to the couple’s twin boys Simon and Robin six years later. The two were happily married until William’s death back in 2000.  Mollie’s agent Joan Reddin said she believes that Mollie never fully recovered from the loss of her husband, saying “They were very much in love, and started to go down-hill when he died.”

The character of Mrs. Slocumbe, along with John Inman’s portrayal of the flamboyant Mr. Humphries, will stand as two of the most iconic television characters of all time in the LGBT community, and Mrs. Slocumbe was an inspiration for countless drag routines the world over, including Australian comedian Barry Humphries who credits the character of Mrs. Slocumbe as an inspiration for Dame Edna Everage.

Frank Thornton, one of the very few surviving cast members who played Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?  said: “Mollie, of course, was an excellent comedian. She was a jolly good actress.”

Yes she was.

You will be truly missed by fans like myself all over the world, Mollie.

“And I am unanimous in that!”

Until Next time!

Michael Queenstown.

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