Star of stage and screen and Sussex resident Joan Laurie has passed away aged 94.
The singer and comedian had lived in Salisbury Road in Worthing since 1958 and had become a popular figure while taking her dog, Pluto, for a walk in her motorised wheelchair.
Joan was the daughter of Welsh comedian Gladys Morgan, who was commemorated with a blue plaque on her Salisbury Road home in 2012, and the comic Frank Laurie.
Geoff Bowden, a friend of Joan’s and editor of the British Music Hall Society magazine The Call Boy, paid tribute to the ‘bubbly’ star who he said stayed sharp into her final years.
“I was writing an article about her mother in 2001 when Joan invited me down for a chat,” he said.
“She was so bubbly and friendly. Very small – around four foot ten – and very glam, especially in her younger years.
“She had the most wonderful sense of humour that saw her through all of her ailments and setbacks. She had a couple of a falls recently but she laughed through them both.”
Geoff said Joan had ‘total recall’ into her 90s, able to recount all of the performers from specific shows as far back as the 1950s.
Joan’s first taste of fame was alongside her mother in the group Gladys Morgan and Company – the ‘company’ being her husband Frank, Joan and Joan’s husband, Bert Hollman.
In the 1950s Joan appeared as a solo singer and comedian. She toured Australia to great acclaim with the Black And White Minstrel Show as the star comedian in the late 1960s and performed cabaret at prestigious venues such as the London Palladium, Empire and the Dorchester in London.
In the 1980s her career stalled as she cared for her mother and her husband, Bert, but after his death in 1988 she was persuaded to return to the stage by her friend Sir Ken Dodd.
She continued to have success across the UK in variety and cabaret shows, completing two seasons in Eastbourne with the show The Stage.
Joan and Bert had no children, so Geoff said her death signals the end of 60 years of the Morgan/Laurie family in Worthing.
She is survived by her Welsh corgi, Pluto, who was her closest companion after the death of her beloved husband.
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