Last of the Summer Wine : RIP: Actress Jean Alexander dies at 90

RIP: Actress Jean Alexander dies at 90

Jean Alexander dead aged 90: Coronation Street's Hilda Ogden dies in hospital three days after birthday

The Mirror
October 14, 2016

Coronation Street legend Jean Alexander has died in hospital just three days after her 90th birthday.

The woman known to millions as Hilda Ogden passed away peacefully early today (Friday).

She had been taken into hospital on Tuesday, the day of her birthday, after feeling unwell.

Her niece, Sonia Hearld, 64, told how she received a phone call from the hospital breaking the bad news.

“It is such a shock” she said.

She told how Jean had been been taken poorly just a few days earlier as family and friends planned to gather to celebrate her 90th last weekend.

“She had been feeling a little poorly and had gone in for some tests” she said.

After a couple of days in hospital she was allowed back the care home, where she had been looked after since suffering a slight stroke in 2014.

“But on Tuesday she was still not too good and it was decided she might be better going back into hospital.”

Today Sonia and her sister Valerie Thewlis, 60, were awaiting further news of their beloved aunt’s final hours.

The women had to break the news of her death to their father, Jean’s brother, Kenneth Hodgkinson, 91.

The are the only relatives of Jean, who never married and instead dedicated her life to her career.

“I saw her last week and she seemed weak and a bit tired but this was still a shock.

“The hospital phoned me and said they were very sorry but Jean had passed away.”

Sonia said Jean had been back on her feet soon after her stroke in June 2014.

Days after she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, Jean told her fans via the Mirror.

"Don't worry, I am fit and well, but thank you so much for your goodwill messages.

"I suffered a very slight stroke but I hope to be back in the garden in no time at all."

And she laughed: "I've spent my career playing old ladies - now I am one."

But she added: “Don’t write me off yet, there's still so much I plan to see and do.”

When she returned to her home the following September she said: "I'm back home where I am happy, fit and well after that little hiccup. I am getting on with life as normal.

"I am enjoying life with family and friends. In fact I'm just going out to do the weekly shop.”

She added: ”Thank you to everyone for all the goodwill messages, I was very touched but there is life in the old dog yet."

Sonia said yesterday (Friday): “She recovered well and was back in her own home. But it got to the point she was having problems with her mobility and getting down to the shops.

“So it was decided she would be better off where she would have someone to care for her.

“But she was still fully independent and always said she was going to go back to her own home.

“She was well but she sometimes needed a little help walking, she would lean on people for support.”

Sonia said her earliest memories of Jean were of an “amazingly glamorous” woman who she and her sister adored and who adored them.

“To us she was an actress and she was glamorous.

“But she was great fun. She had a wicked sense of humour.”

Sonia said Jean would be remembered by millions for her much loved character Hilda Ogden, which made her a legend in the Uk and around the world, wherever the soap was shown.

“She was a lady who knew her own mind. She knew what she wanted to do and she did it.

“She was determined to become a success and she did.”

ean died early today in the Southport and Ormskirk hospital near her home, where she had been treated since Tuesday.

She played Hilda Ogden, Britain’s best loved cleaner or 23 years from 1964 until 1987.

Born Jean Hodgkinson, she received a 1987 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress and retired from acting in 2012.

Despite her yearning to be an actress she worked for five years as a library assistant in Liverpool before she began her acting career in 1949 at the Adelphi Guild Theatre in Macclesfield.

She later worked in rep in Oldham, Stockport and York.

She worked as an actress, wardrobe mistress and stage manager.

Her television debut was in the television police series Z-Cars and first appeared in Coronation Street in 1962 as landlady Mrs Webb.

She started playing Hilda on 8 July 1964, finally retiring on 25 December 1987.

In the 40 Years on Coronation Street special she remembered how a fan asked if she was Hilda. She responded in her normal accent, “I beg your pardon?”

The fan said, “Oh, don’t you talk funny!”

In 1984 hundreds of fans sent her condolence cards after the death of her on-screen husband Stan Ogden, played by Bernard Youens, who had died shortly before his character was killed off.

In 1985 she received the Royal Television Society Award for her performance on Coronation Street.

When she decided to leave the programme in 1987, fans started “Save Hilda!” campaigns.

Her final touching scene in the Rovers Return attracted more than 27 million viewers.

In 1988 Ashe made a guest appearance in the long-running BBC comedy series Last of the Summer Wine as Auntie Wainwright, the money-grabbing local junk shop owner but then became a regular in the show until it ended in 2010.

In 2005 the UK TV Times poll voted her as the “Greatest Soap Opera Star of All Time”.

After recovering from a stroke in 2014 she revealed she was also suffering from osteoporosis, which had made her shrink.

“I have lost four inches in height. I used to be 5ft 4in, now I’m just 5ft. But this is what happens,” she said.

“I can get down on my knees when I’m in the garden – but I can’t get up again.”

Of her partnership with Bernard Youens she said: “I loved playing Hilda. I never envisaged how iconic she would become, but to be able to make her someone so many people recognised was an honour.

“Hilda was fun, especially with the scrapes Stan got in.

“I understood her because I knew a lot like her when I was young. Hilda was a hard worker and kept Stan in order. They’d bicker, but let anyone say anything about the other and they were up in arms.

“I’m flattered the character was so successful. I appreciate that people enjoyed what I did. It makes me feel very grateful for my existence.”

In 2005, she was voted the nation’s favourite soap character, while in her 1980s heyday, Hilda was behind only the Queen, Queen Mother and Princess Diana in a poll of the most recognisable women in Britain.

“I don’t know why she was so popular” she said.

“I think probably because she was a downtrodden, poor little soul. I think people were sorry for Hilda.

“She went plodding away, doing her best all the time, always aspiring to better things.

“I liked playing her. She was a gift to play but I wouldn’t want her living next door to me.”

Re: RIP: Actress Jean Alexander dies at 90

22 wonderful years. Rest in peace Auntie, rest in peace. Try and wangle that extra fiver from St. Paul for a new set of gates.