Farewell to a musical legend and friend of the Trust

A star of stage and screen who became a great friend of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has died at the age of 88.

Actress Jean Bayless starred in the original West End production of The Sound of Music after being auditioned by Richard Rodgers, the composer who made up one half of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership.

Jean starred in the production at the Palace Theatre for two years from April 1961, one of the highlights of an impressive career in which she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Julie Andrews, Noel Coward, Gloria Swanson, Elaine Stritch, Rudolph Nureyev, Anthony Newley Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley.

Later she became a familiar face on television when she played motel chef Cynthia Cunningham in the long-running soap Crossroads.

Trust secretary Patrick Tootal and wife Janet, the Trust’s event organiser, met Jean when she attended the charity’s second Parliamentary reception in 2007. She became a close personal friend and a great supporter of the Trust, as did many of her family members.

“Jean was a special friend to us and to the Trust and she will be sadly missed,” commented Patrick.

Jean, whose husband David Johnson died in 2008, is survived by her sons Daniel and Adam. She died on Friday, 5 February in Birmingham after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

Jean Bayless as Maria in The Sound of Music, Palace Theatre, West End 1961

Jean Bayless as Maria in The Sound of Music, 1961

Jean Baylis and HRH

Jean Bayless shows HRH Prince Michael of Kent a photograph of her meeting his mother, Princess Marina, when she was appearing in The Sound of Music. Also in the photograph are Air Vice-Marshal David Hawkins-Leth CB, LVO, MBE, DL and Janet Tootal BEM

Jean Baylis with one of the few

Jean with one of the Few, Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson AE

2 thoughts on “Farewell to a musical legend and friend of the Trust

    Best beef I’ve ever eaten cooked and brought by lovely Jean at my birthday party then she beautifully sang for everyone a truly delightful lady beautiful inside and out she will be greatly missed regards Trudy

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