Born at Dukinfield, Cheshire, on 11 April 1941, Shirley Stelfox early caught the acting bug, despite suffering from bilateral amblyopia, leaving her short-sighted. She managed to overcome this handicap to secure a place at RADA wherever classmates were Edward Fox, John Thaw and Sarah Miles. After Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Stelfox started straight at the BBC in a play called The Case Before You in which she played a 15 year old arsonist – in which the prompter did not respond to her long pauses. In December 1960, she appeared in her first episode on Coronation Street. Later she would play many different characters in the world-famous soap opera, including running a dating agency in which one of her customers was in 1983 the entrance cue for Jack Duckworth. She was the first actress to play the Hyacinth’s randy sister Rose in the first series of Keeping Up Appearances, but was later replaced by Mary Millar. She appeared in several other well-known television series, including the successful Wicked Women, Making Out with Margi Clarke, Mrs Parkin in Heartbeat, – and Jean in Common as Muck, Juliet Bravo, Coronation Street, The Bill and Crossroads, and Inspector Morse, She played Jane Healy, Melanie Owen’s mother, in an episode of EastEnders. She appeared in the short-lived series Albion Market.
Shirley Stelfox played the mother of Julie Walters and Victoria Wood in the TV movie Pat and Margaret (1994). But her best criticised role in films came as the “$2.00 Prostitute” in 1984, a movie adaptation of the George Orwell novel, starring John Hurt and Richard Burton. Slightly typecast as a prostitute she played another in Python’s Terry Jones comedy Personal Services (1987) based on the life of Madame Cyn, the high-class whore house owner who entertained celebrities and politicians. Stelfox played a stand-up comedienne in Stand Up Sweetie Pie, directed by June Brown, the stalwart of Eastenders, who must have come across each other on set; it premiered in 1993 at the Nottingham Playhouse, rather than the Westend. Stelfox had a daughter by husband Keith Edmundson but the marriage was dissolved after 17 years. She was married to actor Don Henderson from 1979 until his death in 1997. They lived in Stratford-upon-Avon where she helped bring up to two stepchildren. Her husband died in 1997 from throat cancer. She removed to rural Nottinghamshire. Stelfox died from cancer on 7 December 2015, aged 74.
- April, 11, 1941
- United Kingdom
- Dukinfield, Cheshire, England
- December, 07, 2015
- United Kingdom
- Yorkshire Dales
Cause of Death