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Susannah York (9 January 1939 – 15 January 2011) was an English film, stage and television actress. She was awarded a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actress for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for the same film. She won best actress for Images at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. In 1991 she was appointed an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Her appearances in various hit films of the 1960s formed the basis of her international reputation, and an obituary in The Telegraph characterised her as "the blue-eyed English rose with the china-white skin and cupid lips who epitomised the sensuality of the swinging Sixties".

Early life [edit]Edit

York was born Susannah Yolande Fletcher in Chelsea, London, in 1939, the younger daughter of Simon William Peel Vickers Fletcher (1910–2002), a merchant banker and steel magnate, and his first wife, the former Joan Nita Mary Bowring – they married in 1935 and divorced prior to 1943. Her maternal grandfather was Walter Andrew Bowring, CBE, a British diplomat who served as Administrator of Dominica (1933–1935); she was a great-great-granddaughter of political economist Sir John Bowring. York had an elder sister, as well as a half-brother, Eugene Xavier Charles William Peel Fletcher, from her father's second marriage to Pauline de Bearnez de Morton de La Chapelle.

In early 1943, her mother married a Scottish businessman, Adam M. Hamilton, and moved, with her daughter, to Scotland. At the age of 11 York entered Marr College in Troon,Ayrshire. Later she became a boarder at Wispers School, a school housed in Wispers, a Norman Shaw-designed country house in the Sussex village of Stedham. At 13 she was removed – effectively expelled – from Wispers after owning up to a naked midnight swim in the school pool, and she transferred to East Haddon Hall in Northamptonshire.

Enthused by her experiences of acting at school (she had played an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at the age of nine), York first decided to apply to the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art; but after her mother had separated from her stepfather and moved to London, she instead auditioned for RADA. There she won the Ronson award for most promising student before graduating in 1958.

Personal life [edit]Edit

In 1960, York married Michael Wells, with whom she had two children, daughter Sasha (born May 1972) and son Orlando (born June 1973). They divorced in 1976. In the 1984 TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol, she played Mrs. Cratchit and both of her children co-starred as Cratchit offspring. Orlando gave York her first grandchild, Rafferty, in 2007.

Politically, she was left-wing and publicly supported Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli dissident who revealed Israel's nuclear weapons programme. While performing The Loves of Shakespeare's Women at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Avivin June 2007, York dedicated the performance to Vanunu, evoking both cheers and jeers from the audience.

Death [edit]Edit

York died at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London from advanced bone marrow cancer on 15 January 2011, six days after her 72nd birthday.

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