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Death of US soap opera star Kate O’Mara

Kate OMard with Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe on their TV show in 1976. Picture: PA

Kate OMard with Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe on their TV show in 1976. Picture: PA

  • by SHÂN ROSS
 

ACTRESS Kate O’Mara, best known for her role in the 1980s US soap opera Dynasty, has died at the age of 74.

The British star played Cassandra “Caress” Morrell, sister to Joan Collins’ Alexis Colby, in the US show and also had starring roles in British television series Doctor Who, Howards’ Way and Triangle.

Her agent Phil Belfield said she died yesterday morning in a Sussex nursing home after a short illness.

He said: “She was extraordinary, she had so much energy and vitality with a love for theatre and acting.”

He added: “A shining star has gone out and Kate will be dearly missed by all who knew and have worked with her.”

O’Mara was cast in her first television roles in the 1960s, but it was in the 1980s that she landed her biggest and longest-running roles.

As well as Dynasty, she starred as a ruthless businesswoman in BBC drama Howards’ Way, which was dubbed the “Dallas of the Seas”. She was also briefly a regular on the North Sea ferry drama Triangle.

In 1976, she joined Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe on their long-running show.

In the 1990s, O’Mara starred in BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous as Joanna Lumley’s on-screen sister, and in 2001, she made a string of appearances in ITV drama Bad Girls.

In 2004 O’Mara co-wrote and starred as Mary Queen of Scots in the drama Shadow in the Sun.

The actress played Lady Windermere in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime alongside Lee Mead in 2010.

O’Mara and Collins met the Queen at a Diamond Jubilee event celebrating the arts in 2012. Collins paid tribute to O’Mara on Twitter yesterday ­afternoon.

She wrote: “Tragic news about Kate O’Mara, we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress who Alexis insisted on calling CASSIE! RIP.”

O’Mara also appeared in the original run of Doctor Who ­opposite both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as renegade Time Lord The Rani.

Last year, which was Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, she said she would like to reprise the role.

“If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it,” she told Digital Spy ahead of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the show, where she tweeted images of herself with former co-stars.

“I think it’s quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm’s FairyTales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure.

“Why, I do not know, but often she is. I think it’s an idea to be exploited.”

More recently she had ­appeared in ITV soap Benidorm and a 2012 stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile.

One of her final public ­appearances saw her hosting An Evening With Kate O’Mara in London in October.

On hearing the news of her death, Doctor Who co-star Baker tweeted: “Oh my goodness. Kate O’Mara is no longer with us. Sad sad news. A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress. We are the poorer.”

O’Hara published two autobiographies and two novels, When She Was Bad and Good Time Girl.

She was married twice, to ­actors ­Richard Willis and Jeremy Young and leaves a sister, actress Belinda Carroll. Her son Dickon died last year.

The actress last posted a message on Twitter on 17 March.

“Thank you so much for your kind tweets,” she wrote. “It’s both humbling and completely overwhelming to read all of your messages. Much Love x.”

Mr Belfield said there would be a private funeral and a ­memorial service on a date which would be confirmed.

 

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