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PASSINGS / Mollie Sugden

British comedy actress

July 04, 2009|Times Staff And Wire Reports

Mollie Sugden, 86, a British actress best known for her role as Mrs. Slocombe in the television comedy series "Are You Being Served?" died Wednesday in London after a long illness, according to her agent, Joan Reddin.

With her hair highly coiffed and dyed various outlandish shades, Sugden played the bossy Mrs. Slocombe throughout the run of the innuendo-laden BBC show from 1972 to 1985.

Reruns of the show in the United States in the 1990s gained her a new audience overseas.

"She was great fun, a very good actress, very versatile. She could play serious stuff and comedy," Frank Thornton, who played opposite Sugden in the series as the stuffy floorwalker Captain Peacock, told BBC television. "It was a very happy show to work on -- you can't play comedy with people you dislike."

Sugden also found success in the BBC TV comedy series "The Liver Birds" and in the long-running ITV soap opera "Coronation Street."

In 1993 she had a small speaking part in San Francisco Opera's production of Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment."

Mary Isobel Sugden was born July 21, 1922, in Keighley, England. Her education was interrupted by World War II, when she went to work in a munitions factory. She later studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

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