Liz Dawn, Coronation Street 'legend' who played Vera Duckworth, dies at 77
Liz Dawn, the Coronation Street actress who played Vera Duckworth in the soap for more than 30 years, has died.
The cast of the ITV show were said to be "heartbroken" at the death of the "true Coronation Street legend" at 77.
She died "peacefully in her sleep" on Monday night, her family said in a statement released on Tuesday morning.
Dawn had entertained generations of viewers with her portrayal of Vera, who lived at number nine Coronation Street with husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey.
In a statement, her family said they were "devastated and heartbroken at the passing of our much-loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother, the incredible Liz Dawn".
They added: "She has been the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing."
Coronation Street said in a statement that "her family at Coronation Street are heartbroken".
It is with the greatest sadness that we have learned our beloved Liz Dawn has passed away last night. https://t.co/zzdgWu2EIUpic.twitter.com/w3fQuGRArb
— Coronation Street (@itvcorrie) September 26, 2017
They added: "We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very sad time to Liz's devoted husband Don, her loving children Graham, Dawn, Ann and Julie, their families and her six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
"We have been blessed to have Liz in our lives, as she was such a kind, considerate and caring friend and colleague.
"As Coronation Street's Vera Duckworth for 34 years, Liz brought so much joy and happiness to so many. She was a wonderful actress who will forever be a true Coronation Street legend."
Coronation Street's executive producer, Kieran Roberts, said in a statement: "Liz Dawn was a true Coronation Street legend, a brilliant actor and a wonderful person.
"Everyone lucky enough to have worked with Liz during her 34 years playing Corrie icon Vera Duckworth will remember her with huge affection."
After being diagnosed with emphysema, Dawn was written out of the soap in 2008 when Vera died in her sleep.
Two years later, she made a moving comeback as the much-loved Corrie resident.
Just before he passed away, Jack saw a vision of the wife who had spent years nagging him and they shared a last dance together.
In 2012, Tarmey died in Spain. At the time, Dawn said: "You couldn't wish to meet a more lovely man and a true gentleman."
Speaking about her health on a celebrity version of the Jeremy Kyle Show in 2014, the actress said: "I take a lot of tablets. I just live every day and get on with it."
Born Sylvia Butterfield, the actress was best known by her professional name Elizabeth or Liz Dawn. She was awarded an MBE in the 2000 birthday honours.
'A proper soap legend': Tributes to Liz Dawn
Very sad news about Liz Dawn. A proper soap legend! Rip lovely Vera x
— Andrew Hayden-Smith (@AndrewHaydSmith) September 26, 2017
Just heard the terrible news of our lovely Liz Dawns passing. I'm so sad. What a wonderful lady. She will be so missed. Love to her family x
— Kym Marsh (@msm4rsh) September 26, 2017
So sad to hear we have lost Liz Dawn. So many happy memories of our time together @itvcorrie ❤️ pic.twitter.com/I9Vr40kH72
— Denise Welch (@RealDeniseWelch) September 26, 2017
R.I.P to the iconic star Liz dawn x another absolute Corrie legend has sadly passed! Xx ��
— Sam Bailey Official (@SamBaileyREAL) September 26, 2017
Oh dear... and now the lovely Liz Dawn. RIP ❤️
— Derren Litten (@DerrenLitten) September 26, 2017
Very sad to hear this, I've so many memories of this lady who was as warm and funny off screen as on, RIP Liz Dawn #Corriehttps://t.co/IKHxMqXwNf
— David Kester (@davidkester67) September 26, 2017
Liz Dawn an amazingly talented actress .. giving us comedy & tragic classic scenes from our ever loved Corrie ..a true legend ..Thank you ❤️
— Cheryl Fergison (@cherylfergison1) September 26, 2017
I am so sad & upset my dear friend Liz Dawn has passed over. One of the most wonderful people I've ever met in TV. Sending her family love �� pic.twitter.com/8neCaMvBcO
— Russell Grant (@THERussellGrant) September 26, 2017
Liz Dawn: One of the soap's most popular stars
Liz Dawn made her name as the argumentative Vera Duckworth, a much-loved character in Coronation Street and one of the longest-serving members of the cast.
With screen husband Jack they became one of the soap world's most popular - and quarrelsome - couples.
Dawn first set foot on the cobbles as a factory worker in 1974 .
She was on the soap for 34 years, until her character was written out of the ITV show in 2008 at the actress's request.
The episode in which her character died peacefully in her sleep in her armchair was seen by more than 12 million viewers.
Dawn had been diagnosed with the lung disease emphysema in 2004. She returned for a one-off appearance as Vera's ghost in 2010 for Tarmey's final scenes.
She later said of life in a soap: "It does take over your life. People don't realise. They think you've had a charmed life. They don't see that you've brought up four children and learnt lines on the train."
From Woolworths to TV favourite
Dawn was born Sylvia Butterfield in Leeds on November 8, 1938.
She left school at 16 and worked selling light bulbs in Woolworths, as well as in a local tailoring factory, as a cinema usherette and shoe salesgirl.
She began her showbusiness career as a nightclub singer. By the late 1960s she ventured into acting, often taking small parts in TV programmes as well as appearing in commercials.
During the 1970s Dawn appeared in a variety of programmes, including All Creatures Great And Small and Colin Welland's play Leeds United.
An MBE for charity work
In 2000, Dawn was chosen as the Lady Mayoress of Leeds and was awarded an MBE in October of that year for services to charity, having helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds areas.
She campaigned for the British Lung Foundation, fronting campaigns to raise awareness.
She enjoyed a cameo role in 2015 - two years after suffering a heart attack - in the ITV soap Emmerdale.
"I love my character. What a feisty lady she is!," she said at the time, of Mrs Winterbottom.
"Giving them all a run for their money in the B&B on Christmas Day. She's so rude to them, which isn't like me at all."
Dawn had four children and was married twice - to miner Walter Bradley in 1957, with whom she had her first child, and to electrician Donald Ibbertson in 1965.