(21 July 1922 – 1 July 2009)
I just heard about this. Of all of the many, many celebrity deaths in the last few days this one has hit me hardest. Are You Being Served has a pretty special place in my history, and I just adored Mollie Sugden.
Rest in Peace, Mrs. Slocombe.
The comedy actor Mollie Sugden died today at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Yorkshire-born Sugden was best known for playing Mrs Slocombe in long-running BBC sitcom Are You Being Served?, a role later reprised for Grace and Favour.
She died at the Royal Surrey hospital with her twin sons, Robin and Simon Moore, at her bedside, according to her agent Joan Reddin.
One of a select bunch of British performers to achieve national treasure status, Sugden was renowned for her portrayal of fearsome battleaxes. The first of such roles to achieve acclaim was as Mrs Hutchinson in The Liver Birds, a series so popular it was revived in the late 90s using the original cast.
She was the star of many other comedies, including Come Back Mrs Noah, That's My Boy and My Husband And I, which she made with her husband.
But it was as the bossy sales lady Betty Slocombe in Are You Being Served? that she was best known. The long-running, innuendo-laden television comedy was such a hit that a feature film was made based on the series, and it was successfully exported to America. Every episode Sugden sported a different hair colour and continually harped on about her "pussy".
Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in 1922, Sugden studied drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she took three major awards in one year.
But success did not come quickly and she spent many years in repertory up and down the country. It was in 1956, while she was working for Swansea Rep at the Grand Theatre, earning about £12 a week, that she met her husband, the Coronation Street actor William Moore. The couple came to be regarded as one of the establishments of showbusiness, with a marriage that had stood the test of time, until Moore died in 2000.