Actress Googie Withers, 94, dies in Sydney home

Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) — British actress Googie Withers, a Hollywood golden age staple best known for her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes," has died at her home in Australia. She was 94.

Born Georgette Lizette Withers in what was then British India, she was given her lifetime nickname by her Indian nanny.

Her family moved back to Britain where she began acting at age 12. She was a dancer in a West End production in London when she was offered work in 1935 as a film extra in "The Girl in the Crowd."

Soon after starting work, director Michael Powell fired one of the female leads and she stepped into the role.

Withers appeared in dozens of films in the 1930s and 40s, but was probably best known for her role as Blanche in "The Lady Vanishes" playing opposite Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave.

In 1958, Withers moved to Australia with her husband, Australian actor John McCallum.

The couple costarred in 10 popular films together, and they lived in Sydney until McCallum died last year at age 91.

Theater producer John Frost says Withers and her husband were known for their glamor and work ethic.

"She was an extraordinary person, and John and Googie together were probably the last of a breed of actor-manager and wife team to tour the world and work constantly," Frost told Australia's ABC television news.

"I think it's the end of a golden era with the two of them passing now, and in particular Googie."

Withers was the first non-Australian to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1980 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2002.

Her last role was in the 1996 Australian movie "Shine," for which Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar.

She is survived by her three children.

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