Gretchen Franklin, 94, a British actress known to millions as the dotty, dog-loving Ethel Skinner in the long-running BBC soap opera "EastEnders," died Monday at her home in London of unspecified causes.
Although she acted for more than 50 years, Franklin earned her greatest fame during her tenure on "EastEnders" from 1985 to 2000. Clutching her pug dog, Willy, Ethel Skinner was a beloved fixture in the show's fictional Albert Square and its Queen Vic pub. The character was written out in a controversial story line in which Ethel, dying of cancer, begged a friend to help her die. The BBC said 15 million people watched Ethel's funeral in 2000.