Obituary: Fenella Fielding, glamorous actress of stage and screen, best known for Carry On films

Fenella Fielding, actress. Born: 17 November, 1927, in London. Died: 11 September 2018, aged 90.

Fenella Fielding launching a series of Royal Mail stamps in 2008 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Carry On films. Picture: PA
Fenella Fielding launching a series of Royal Mail stamps in 2008 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Carry On films. Picture: PA

Fenella Fielding, a British actress who was the glamorous, velvet-voiced star of two Carry On comedies, has died at the age of 90.

Friend and biographer Simon McKay said that Fielding died after suffering a stroke two weeks earlier.

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She is the second Carry On stalwart to die within a week following the death of Liz Fraser, aged 88, last Thursday as a result of complications following an operation.

Born Fenella Feldman in London in 1927, Fielding appeared regularly in British stage, screen and television productions from the 1950s. In the 1960s, she starred in three films in the Doctor in the House comedy series and two of the double entendre-laden Carry On comedies: Carry on Regardless and Carry on Screaming.

Horror spoof Carry on Screaming in 1966 produced her most iconic role, as the vampish, vampiric Valeria.

Her most famous line from the movie – “Do you mind if I smoke?” – became the title of a memoir published last year.

Fielding declined to do any more Carry On films, and her movie career tailed off. She later lamented being typecast, saying in 2008 that “people still think of me in a certain way because of the Carry On films.”

She continued to appear regularly on stage, where critics praised her performances, and to do radio and voice work.

Her stage credits include the title roles in Hedda Gabler and Colette. She is also fondly remembered for a number of TV appearances on the Morecambe and Wise Show as well as playing The Vixen in Uncle Jac. Her most recent TV appearance was in Skins in 2012.

For her many fans, the actress dubbed the “first lady of the double entendre” was an underappreciated legend of British entertainment.

Fielding, who lived in ­Chiswick, west London, for nearly 40 years, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to drama and charity, had a career that spanned more than 70 years.

Mr McKay said: “It’s hard to imagine, but that bright twinkling star faded slowly and has actually gone out.

“Since her stroke on 25 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. 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.”