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Star of Within These Walls Googie Withers Dies, Aged 94

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Googie Withers, a regular on British stage and screen, famed for her appearances in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and ITV's Within These Walls, has died. She passed away at her home in Australia on Friday (15 July 2011), aged 94.

Born Georgette Lizette Withers in Karachi - then part of British India - on 12 March 1917, she was nicknamed Googie by her Indian nanny.

Withers' family moved back to the UK and she began acting at the age of 12. A student of the Italia Conti Academy, she was a dancer in a West End production in London when she took on her first film role in 1935 picture The Girl in the Crowd.

Amongst many film credits her most famous was as one of Margaret Lockwood's friends in Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 picture The Lady Vanishes, where she also appeared alongside Michael Redgrave. Other credits included the Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942), Night and the City (1950) and The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947).

It was working The Loves of Joanna Godden that Withers met actor John McCallum, an Australian film and TV pioneer who later helped create the television series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. They married in 1948, with Withers moving to Australia in 1958. They remained married until McCallum's death in 2010 at the age of 91.

In addition to The Loves of Joanna Godden, Withers and McCallum co-starred in nine further films.

Withers' Australian stage credits included Simon and Laura, The Deep Blue Sea, Desire of the Moth, The First 400 Years, Beekman Place, The Kingfisher, Stardust, The Cherry Orchard and An Ideal Husband.

McCallum appeared alongside her in The School for Scandal at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre and On Golden Pond in the 1980s. The Circle at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1976, transferred to the West End and toured to Canada and the UK.

Withers starred on Broadway with Michael Redgrave in The Complaisant Lover in 1961 and in the West End with Alec Guinness in Exit the King at the Lyceum in 1963.

Later in her career she appeared in ITV's prison drama Within These Walls and the BBC's Hotel du Lac and Northanger Abbey.

Her last film role was in the 1996 Oscar-nominated feature Shine in which she appeared alongside Geoffrey Rush.

She returned to the London stage in 2002 to star alongside Vanessa Redgrave in a West End adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan.

Withers was the first non-Australian to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1980 and received a CBE in 2001. She is survived by her children.


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