'Coronation Street' Favorite Jean Alexander Dead at 90

Jean Alexander
Coronation Street actress Jean Alexander died on October 14, just three days after her 90th birthday. She passed away peacefully in her hospital bed after being admitted earlier in the week.

Famous for her headscarf and curlers in the role of Hilda Ogden, the actress spent 23 years on the soap as the archetypal working class Northern woman. The character was hard-edged busybody but furiously house-proud, particularly of the flying duck ornaments which adorned a mural - or "muriel", as Hilda told guests - in her front room.

Her niece, Sonia Herald, told the Daily Mirror the actress had been taken ill just as family and friends planned to celebrate her 90th last weekend.

"It is such a shock," she said. "She had been feeling a little poorly and had gone in for some tests." Alexander was discharged from hospital and allowed back to her care home, where she had lived since 2014 after suffering a minor stroke. "But on Tuesday she was still not too good and it was decided she might be better going back into hospital,’ Miss Herald said. I saw her last week and she seemed weak and a bit tired but this was still a shock. The hospital phoned me and said they were very sorry but Jean had passed away."

She first appeared in Coronation Street in 1961 as landlady Mrs. Webb, returning three years later as Hilda, and went on to win a Royal Television Society Award in 1985 for the role.

"It's unbelievable that people are still so fond of Hilda," she said after winning the poll. "We had so many wonderful individual characters when I was in the show, Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner come to mind, so to be picked out from amongst that crew is very, very flattering."

Famed for her catchphrase "Ta-ra, chuck", pub cleaner Hilda Ogden was unexpectedly taken to the UK's heart. A thorny relationship with husband Stan Ogden, played by Bernard Youens, helped the characters go down in British television history. After Stan's on-screen funeral - following Youens' death from a heart attack in 1984 - Alexander departed from the normal comic nature of her role. Hilda broke down at the sight of her late husband's abandoned spectacles, leaving viewers in tears themselves.

Alexander also played Aunty Wainwright, the money-grabbing local junk shop owner, on the long-running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, from 1988 to 2010.

She is survived by nieces, Sonia and Valerie, and her brother, Kenneth Hodgkinson.

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