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The Washington Post (17/Jul/2011) - British actress Googie Withers dies at 94




British actress Googie Withers dies at 94

Googie Withers, 94, a British actress best known for her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 film 'The Lady Vanishes," died July 15 at her home in Sydney. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Georgette Lizette Withers was born March 12, 1917, in Karachi, then part of British India. She was given her lifetime nickname by her Indian nanny.

Her family moved back to Britain where Ms. Withers began acting at age 12. She was a dancer in a West End production in London when she was offered work in 1935 as a film extra in 'The Girl in the Crowd."

Soon after starting work, director Michael Powell fired one of the female leads and she stepped into the role.

Ms. Withers appeared in dozens of films in the 1930s and '40s, but was probably best known for her role as Blanche in 'The Lady Vanishes" playing opposite Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. She was dubbed by the English press as 'the best bad girl in British films."

She appeared in many other films, including 'It Always Rains On Sunday" (1947), in which she sheltered a killer on the run, played by John McCallum, an Australian actor she married in 1948.

Ms. Withers also appeared in several British wartime dramas in the 1940s and played the memorable role of Helen Nosseross in the 1950 film noir classic 'Night and the City," directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney.

In the 1950s, she acted on the British stage before moving to Australia with her husband in 1958. The couple co-starred in 10 popular films together, and Ms. Withers had occasional theatrical roles on Broadway and in England through the 1980s.

Ms. Withers won an acting award for her part as a prison governor in the 1970s British television series 'Within These Walls." She starred in the 1986 BBC adaptation of Anita Brookner's novel 'Hotel du Lac" and in a 1987 BBC production of Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey."

Ms. Withers appeared in the well-received 1994 film 'Country Life," directed by Michael Blakemore, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's 'Uncle Vanya" set in Australia in 1919.

In 1996, she portrayed a writer who furthers the career of pianist David Helfgott, played by Geoffrey Rush, in the popular film 'Shine."

When she was 85 in 2002, Ms. Withers shared the stage in London's West End with her husband and Vanessa Redgrave in Oscar Wilde's 'Lady Windermere's Fan."

McCallum died last year at 91. Survivors include three children.