Actress and presenter Fenella Fielding died yesterday after a recent stroke.
“It’s hard to imagine, but that bright twinkling star faded slowly and has actually gone out. Since her stroke on 25th August, Fenella has been in hospital where she remained calm, comfortable and divine throughout. It’s been an incredibly sad time, but also life affirming to see her pass with the great dignity she deserved. To quote Fenella’s GP, “I have known her for 30 years and she would wish to take a graceful bow and leave the stage like the lady she is.” She did just that.” – Friend & Collaborator Simon McKay
Fenella is best remembered for her role in Carry On Screaming however she had an extensive stage, television, film and radio career which began professionally on-stage in 1952 and continued until the day before she fell ill when she had been recording some voice material for LBC Radio. On 25th August she experienced a severe stroke and never fully recovered from it.
She was born in 1927 as Fenella Marion Feldman in London, to a Romanian Jewish mother, Tilly and a Lithuanian Jewish father, Philip Feldman. Fenella was the younger sister of Baron Basil Feldman. She attended North London Collegiate School. She was given her first break in showbiz when she accompanied actor Ron Moody to an audition. They had become friends while working together on an amateur production at the London School of Economics.
Fenella Fielding and Ian Carmichael in ABC-TV’s The Importance of Being Earnest, 1964. Part of ITV’s Armchair Theatre series.
Her father at one time managed a cinema in Silvertown, east London, however it would be the stage and not movies that Fenella spent her early career making her debut in Constant Lover in 1952 as an understudy. Other stage work followed including Cockles and Champagne in ’54, Jubilee Girl in ’56 and Love For Love in ’57. Tours followed with Valmouth during 1958-59 and Pieces of Eight from 1959-60. Fielding would make many other appearances on stage up to June 2018.
Television appearances began in 1957 with the Associated Rediffusion ITV series Destination Downing Street. Appearances in ATV productions include Danger Man, The Strange World of Gurney Slade, The Four Just Men, Love Story and The Prisoner. It was however the big screen that gave Fenella her most memorable role appearing as Valeria Watt in Carry On Screaming, this 1966 appearance in the saucy film franchise was her second having featured in 1961’s Carry On Regardless.
Over a sixty year career there were many other movie, television and radio appearances in roles and as herself including guest spots on BBC One word game show Call My Bluff, sketch comedy with the beeb’s Morecambe and Wise, Associated Rediffusion variety series Stars and Garters, Tyne Tees nostalgia quiz Those Wonderful TV Times and ATV’s Golden Gala, hosted by Noele Gordon, which brought together over 100 famous females to mark 50 years of the first suffragette movement.
Having a Carry On with Kenneth Williams in the 1966 ‘Screaming’ movie.
Across the 1980s and 90s roles and appearances continued including popular Children’s BBC series Uncle Jack alongside lead star Paul Jones of Manfred Mann fame. Documentaries about comedy legends and the Carry On movies also kept Fenella busy with contributions to LWT’s The South Bank Show, Channel 4’s The 100 Greatest Scary Moments, Greatest Carry On Films for Channel 5 and Carry On Forever for ITV3.
Fellow Carry On performer Liz Fraser died on September 6th aged 88. She had appeared in Carry On Cruising, Carry On Regardless, Carry On Cabby and Carry On Behind. Comedy TV roles included on BBC TV’s Hancock’s Half Hour, Dad’s Army, for Thames TV, and ITV, The Benny Hill Show. Liz also made many appearances in serious roles too including on ABC action series The Avengers and ATV’s high drama The Professionals.
“Fenella Fielding OBE passed away this afternoon peacefully. She died with her eyelashes on! Miss Fielding was an incredible talent. That voice! A unique woman, much loved by family, friends and fans. She will be missed tremendously.” – Friend & Collaborator Simon McKay