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Sylvia Syms, British Star of ‘The Queen’ and ‘Victim,’ Dies at 89



Sylvia Syms, the British actress whose body of work stretched back to the 1950s and included roles in Ice Cold in Alex, Victim and The Queen, has died. She was 89.

In a statement to Sky News, her family said she “died peacefully” on Jan. 27 at a London care home for those in the entertainment industry.

“She has lived an amazing life, and gave us joy and laughter right up to the end,” they said. “Just yesterday, we were reminiscing together about all our adventures. She will be so very missed.”

Born in London in 1934, Syms attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and became an almost instant star in her 20s, thanks to major roles in films such as WWII drama and 1958 Berlinale winner. Ice Cold in Alex (alongside John Mills, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews), English Civil War drama The Moonraker and Expresso Bongo with Cliff Richard.

In 1961, she played the wife of Dirk Bogarde’s gay barrister in Victimnow credited with being liberalizing but highly controversial at the time (it was refused a seal of approval from the American Motion Picture Production Code), and would remain busy on film and TV throughout the 1960s and ’70s.

1974’s The Tamarind Seed, a Cold War romantic thriller also starring screen icons Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif, landed her a BAFTA nomination. The following year, she headed up the jury for the 25th Berlinale.

Later in life, Syms became known for playing a couple of noted Brits, including Margaret Thatcher, whom she portrayed in the 1991 TV film. Thatcher: The Final Days, dramatizing the events surrounding her removal from power and a role she later took to the stage. In Stephen Frears’ 2006 royal biopic The Queenshe played The Queen Mother to Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II (for which Mirren won an Oscar).

Syms’ final on-screen performance was as a 2019 guest role in Sally Wainwright’s BBC/HBO period drama series, Gentleman Jack.

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