LONDON — Actress Sylvia Syms, who starred in classic British films including “Ice Cold in Alex” and “Victim,” has died, her family said Friday. She was 89.
Syms’ children said she “died peacefully” on Friday at Denville Hall, a London retirement home for actors and entertainers.
“She has lived an amazing life and gave us joy and laughter right up to the end,” children Beatie and Ben Edney, said in a statement. “Just yesterday we were reminiscing together about all our adventures. She will be so very missed.”
Born in London in 1934, Syms became a British cinema stalwart, appearing in many of the best-remembered British movies of the 1950s and 60s.
She starred opposite John Mills in World War II adventure “Ice Cold in Alex” in 1958 and appeared the next year in rock musical “Expresso Bongo” with Laurence Harvey and Cliff Richard. She played the wife of Dirk Bogarde’s closeted gay lawyer in the 1961 thriller “Victim,” the first British film to deal openly with homosexuality.
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Other notable films in a career that stretched over seven decades included 1974’s Cold War drama “The Tamarind Seed,” with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif.
Syms played British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1991 TV film “Thatcher: The Final Days,” and appeared as the Queen Mother Elizabeth — mother of Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II — in Stephen Frears’ Academy Award-winning 2006 film “The Queen.”
The following year, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the real queen at Buckingham Palace.
Syms had a recurring role on the BBC soap opera “EastEnders” between 2007 and 2010, and continued to perform in film and television well into her 80s.
Syms married Alan Edney in 1956; the couple divorced in 1989. She is survived by her daughter and son.
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