The UK actress best known for playing Superman’s mother, Lara, and a saucy wench in the ribald film classic Tom Jones, SUSANNA YORK is gone at 72.
York died of bone marrow cancer Saturday at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London daya after celebrating her birthday, her son confirmed..
The gamin, blue-eyed, blonde British actress was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which nurtured many top actors throughout the years.
Susannah had a long, distinguished career in UK and Yank films, TV and stage roles, but her career launched into the stratosphere after her star-making turn as Albert Finney‘s love interest in Tom Jones (1963).
The film is considered a landmark in ’60s cinema, and York’s unmistakable presence added to its appeal.
Her long blond hair, vivid blue eyes and quick-witted repartee brought her instant worldwide acclaim and was offered a string of excellent roles.
York was nominated for an Oscar for the They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and also starred in A Man for All Seasons and The Battle of Britain.
She also appeared in Jane Eyre with Geo. C. Scott and Jean Genet‘s The Maids with Glenda Jackson and actress Vivien Marchant (Angelina Jolie‘s mother).
Her daring portrayal of a lesbian in the 1968 drama The Killing of Sister George created controversy.
As Childie, the young lesbian in Robert Aldrich’s film adaptation of Frank Marcus’s hit play The Killing of Sister George, York was a sensation of the troubled production.
The film, now considered as one of Aldridge’s best, encountered numerous difficulties because t of its most notorious sequence, an extended scene of lesbian lovemaking between Childie (York) and Mercy Croft (Coral Browne) that was so explicit that it caused the film to be X-rated and banned in manhy locations. (The frank sexuality caused Aldrich’s longtime musical collaborator Frank DeVol to quit in disgust).
In 1972 York won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for Images.
Her film work tailed off as the 1960s faded, but she did play Superman‘s mother Lara in the Christopher Reeve (I, II, IV) era films. Her role substantially enlarged in Superman 2 when Richard Lester made Lara, the Man of Steel’s computer simulated conscience replacing Marlon Brando.
Never comfortable with her image as a film star — “the blue-eyed, golden-haired ingenue”, as she herself put put it — later Susan devoted herself increasingly to the theater, winning a new generation of admirers.
Au revoir, Susannah.