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June Whitfield, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ star, dies at 93

Dame June Whitfield, who played the Edina Monsoon’s long-suffering mother on the hit comedy series “Absolutely Fabulous,” died Friday night at her home at the age of 93.

Whitfield’s agent issued a statement saying that she “passed away peacefully last night,” according to The Guardian.

ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

Made an Order of the British Empire in 1985 and made a dame in 2017 for services to drama and entertainment, Whitfield had a long and illustrious show business career. From her early radio appearances in the 1950s to her zany antics on “Absolutely Fabulous,” Whitfield acted in more than 1,300 radio and television shows.  She might have been best known for her roles in BBC’s “Terry and June” and “Happy Ever After” in the 1970s and 80s.

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June Whitfield Absolutely Fabulous

June Whitfield (center) starred as Mother opposite Joanna Lumley, left, and Jennifer Saunders in the British hit comedy series “Absolutely Fabulous.” Photo credit:Jack Barnes

REACTION

“Absolutely Fabulous” actress Joanna Lumley, 72, who played Patsy Stone, told ITV News: “I am heartbroken to lose such a darling friend and shall never forget her sensational talent, humour and her generosity to us all who had the joy of working with her on Ab Fab.”

Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, described Whitfield as “the North Star of British comedy,” according to a BBC story.

“Her spectacular career is unparalleled in its longevity, with seven decades of being a key element in numerous high profile and successful shows,” Allen said. “She was the go-to female comedy performer of her generation and was always in demand from the cream of British comedy.”

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‘ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS’

“Absolutely Fabulous,” which has a giant gay following, introduced Whitfield to a new generation of fans. The British series debuted in 1992 and broadcast its final episode in 2012. An “Absolutely Fabulous” movie came out in 2016.

“Absolutely Fabulous” excelled in uncensored bad behavior and satirical humor of the female lead characters: Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumely), two hard-drinking, drug-taking, completely and outrageously selfish middle-aged women.

Whitfield was given some great deadpan lines as a foil to Saunders’ manic Monsoon character.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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