Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Happy 90th birthday to Jean Alexander
Jean first appeared in Coronation Street not as Hilda, however. Her first apperance was in October 1962, playing Joan Akers' landlady Mrs. Webb.
Prior to her casting as Hilda, Jean appeared in episodes of ITV Television Playhouse, Deadline Midnight and Z Cars, following an earlier career as a library assistant and then wardrobe mistress and stage mistress in repertory theatres in Macclesfield, Oldham, Stockport and York followed by seven years with Southport rep.
Her Christmas Day 1987 departure from the Street attracted 26 million viewers, a record for the show that stands to this day.
When her departure was announced, fans of the programme bombarded Granada Television with mail opposing her decision to quit, in fact the actress admits that there are still a large pile of letters unopened that she received during her final months in the show.
Post-Coronation Street, Jean has appeared in Boon, Where the Heart Is and Heartbeat, but her longest-running role after Hilda is junk shop owner Auntie Wainwright in long-running BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, in which she guested in 1988 and 1989, before being made a permanent cast member in 1991.
Jean published an autobiography in 1989. In it, she describes her childhood, her attempts to get in the acting world and, of course, her friends on the Street and the reasons why she left.
Jean, who has never married, was voted by readers of television listings magazine TV Times as the "Greatest Soap Opera Star of All Time" in 2005. In 2014 she was hospitalised for a short period with the Daily Mirror at one point mistakenly reporting that she had died.
Many happy (Rovers) Returns to Jean for her special birthday today!
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