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Actress Joan Greenwood Found Dead

March 3, 1987 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Actress Joan Greenwood, who spoke in a husky purr that became her trademark on radio, the stage, films and television, was found dead at her London home by friends arriving for dinner, her son said Monday.

Someone once said Miss Greenwood’s remarkable voice sounded like gargling with champagne.

She had a 49-year career and would have been 66 Wednesday. She had shown no sign of illness and the British Broadcasting Corp. said her death Saturday apparently resulted from a heart attack.

″My mother died when she was enjoying personal happiness and renewed professional success in TV and stage appearances,″ said her son, Jason Morell. ″She kept a trueness to herself. If she didn’t want to do something, she wouldn’t.″

She won international fame in such British movie classics of the 1940s as ″Whisky Galore″ (renamed ″Tight Little Island″ for the United States) and ″Kind Hearts and Coronets.″

Playing with Sir Michael Redgrave and Dame Edith Evans, she was praised for her performance as Gwendolen Fairfax in the 1952 film of Oscar Wilde’s ″The Importance of Being Earnest.″

She also appeared with Albert Finney and Susannah York in the 1963 movie ″Tom Jones,″ a box office hit loosely based on the 18th century novel of the same name by Henry Fielding.

Morell, 23, said his mother had favorite performances but felt her greatest success was in being a well-loved and popular actress.

″It sounds terribly corny, but she was a human being first of all and that was the secret of her success. She wasn’t at all starry,″ said Morell, the only son of the actress and her husband, actor Andre Morell, who died in 1978.

Joan Greenwood was the daughter of an artist, Earnshaw Greenwood.

She studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and made her first appearance on stage at London’s Apollo Theater in November 1938, as Louisa in ″The Robust Invalid.″

Roles that followed included Wendy in ″Peter Pan.″ At the end of World War II she was in Sir Donald Wolfit’s touring Shakespearean repertory company.

Her first appearance on Broadway was in February 1954 as Lucasta Angel in ″The Confidential Clerk.″ She was equally adept at comedy and tragedy, twice playing the title role in Henrik Ibsen’s ″Hedda Gabler.″

She appeared in more than 20 movies after her first, ″John Smith Wakes UP″ in 1940. They include ″The Gentle Sex,″ ″Saraband for Dead Lovers,″ ″The Man in the White Suit,″ ″Father Brown,″ ″Wagner″ and Fritz Lang’s thriller about smugglers for MGM, ″Moonfleet.″

Miss Greenwood’s last stage appearance was on St. Valentine’s Day, acting in a sketch in a gala performance at London’s Prince of Wales theater.

The actress met her husband in an agent’s office and said later that she took an instant dislike to him.

They later worked together in radio plays, became friends, married n secret in Jamaica in 1960 and returned to a blaze of publicity. Morell was starring in a popular television serial at the time.

In an interview four months ago, Miss Greenwood said she was happy to announce that she was a ″little old lady.″

Her son said getting older ″occasionally irritated her, but she enjoyed everything there was to enjoy.″