Actress Billie Whitelaw, 82, dies

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LONDON (AP) — British actress Billie Whitelaw, who collaborated closely with Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and appeared on stage and screen for decades, has died in a London nursing home at age 82.

Denville Hall general manager Charlotte Schram said Whitelaw died Sunday.

"It's a great loss. She was a wonderful person," Schram said.

Whitelaw was well known for her roles in a number of films, including "The Omen" and most recently "Hot Fuzz," and for her regular work with Beckett, who once described her as the "perfect actress."

Their association began with her appearance in Beckett's "Play" in 1964. Her work in Beckett's "Not I" inspired the playwright to produce a piece specially for her, "Footfalls."

She also appeared in his "Happy Days" and "Rockaby."

Whitelaw first appeared on radio when she was 11 and made her stage debut in 1950. She made more than 50 movies, including Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy" in 1972, and worked with a number of film greats, including Albert Finney in "Charlie Bubbles."

She joined the National Theatre Company in the early 1960s, playing a number of lead roles, and continued playing major roles on stage for several more decades.

Her son Mathew Muller said, "She had an incredible career — but first and foremost she was my mum, and that's who I will miss."

He said she had helped him recover from meningitis when he was 5 and that he had spent much time with her in the last year of her life, when she was ill. She spent the last four years of her life in Denville Hall, a care home used by many retired actors.

Whitelaw won several acting awards, including a British Academy Award for best supporting actress.

She told the Independent newspaper in a 1997 interview that she was not frightened of death: "Oh, no. Death's not one of those things that frighten the life out of me," she said, adding that getting on stage with the curtain about the rise was much more daunting.

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