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Patricia Phoenix

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Patricia Phoenix, as Elsie Tanner on Coronation Street, in a still from an episode first aired in the early 1970s.

Patricia Phoenix (November 26, 1924 - September 18, 1986) was a British actress. She was born Patricia Frederica Pilkington in Manchester.

As a child she nursed early theatrical ambitions, appearing regularly on the radio in Children's Hour. After leaving school, she worked as a filing clerk, performing in amateur dramatics in her spare time. Her break came in 1948, playing Sandy Powell's wife in the Mancunian Film Studios' motion picture Cup-tie Honeymoon, followed by a summer season in Blackpool with Thora Hird. Exposure led to more serious work with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in London where she also worked as scriptwriter for ventriloquist Terry Hall and comedian Harry Worth. Though some undistinguished film work followed in 1958 (Blood of the Vampire and Jack the Ripper), in 1960 she returned to Manchester with her ambition all but spent.

However, she was to go on to become best known for her role as Elsie Tanner, the devil-may-care divorcée who lived at No. 11 Coronation Street. Phoenix featured in the programme from 1960 to 1973 and again from 1976 to 1984. Her character became well-known for her fiery red hair, and was famously described by prime minister James Callaghan as "the sexiest thing on television". However, during her periods of absence from The Street, she failed in her attempts to find suitable alternative roles.

Her popularity gained her a part in the film The L-Shaped Room, starring alongside actress Leslie Caron. Her love life was also fodder for tabloid stories. She married her Corrie co-star Alan Browning, and both had alcoholism problems. Later she married actor Anthony Booth. By this final marriage, Patricia became the stepmother of Cherie Blair and mother-in-law of Tony Blair.

Her marriage to Booth came just days before she died of lung cancer. Per her request, her funeral service was performed at Manchester Cathedral, with a large brass band; according to Coronation Street histories written after the fact by show historian Daran Little, she wished that the event that marked her death be as lively as her life.fr:Patricia Phoenix

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