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Farewell to a legend

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.

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