Biography: Anna Wing

Born on Oct. 14, 1914 in Hackney, East London, Anna Eva Lydia Catherine Wing was the daughter of a grocer. The family lived above the shop. She attended a progressive Quaker school and was a lifelong pacifist. When she was young she considered being a missionary, but ended up becoming an artist’s model. In her own words, “I had a very attractive body, a Renoir, and they were mad about it.”

She decided at age 11, she wanted to become an actor after seeing Sir John Gielgud on stage at the Old Vic. In 1977, she finally got the chance to act with her idol in the movie Providence. Her family was too poor to allow her to attend acting school. It was through a scholarship provided by an anonymous donor that she was able to attend the Croydon School of Acting. Within a year, she was acting in theatres around the country.

During World War II, she took a nursing course and volunteered with the Red Cross. After the war, she worked as a nursery school teacher. She met her first husband, Peter Davey, during this time and they married in 1944. They had a son, Mark, before divorcing in 1947.

A bohemian by nature, she lived the majority of her life in London’s West End among the artistic community. Her second great love was Philip O’Connor with whom she had a son John. They never married and he left her after admitting to infidelity in a note.

As recently as 2007, she had a role as a pensioner caught in the middle of a drug deal in the play “The Bill”. Lou_Beale_eastend

In 2009, she received the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her career accomplishments. At that time she said, “I wanted to be an actress when I was a little girl and everybody said no, but I did it. I stuck it out and I’ve done it for 70 years and I’m still working.”

Best known for her role as Lou Beale in the vastly popular British show EastEnders, actress Anna Wing died at the age of 98. Her death, which occurred on Sun., July 7, 2013, was reported by her agent. With a career in movies, television and on the stage that spanned over 70 years, it is ironic that the which made her a household name lasted only three years. Anna herself was an EastEnder and retained her accent throughout her life.

According to fellow soap actress June Brown, “Anna had a true old-fashioned cockney accent like my grandma. I always enjoyed her company and she often asked me to stay with her, saying that I could smoke on the landing! Anna always thought well of everyone and she loved and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. I was very fond of her indeed and will remember Anna with great affection always.”

Photo credit: Fair use

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