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Barbara Windsor, UK star of 'Carry On' films, dies at 83
In this file photo taken on March 22, 2016 British actress Barbara Windsor poses with her insignia after being appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. British actress Barbara Windsor, star of the iconic 1970s "Carry On" films, died in London from Alzheimer's on December 10, 2020 at the age of 83, her husband has said. John Stillwell / POOL / AFP.

LONDON (AFP).- Actress Barbara Windsor, best known as the buxom, blonde-haired star of Britain's hit "Carry On" film franchise, has died at the age of 83, her husband said Friday.

Windsor made nine appearances in the innuendo-laden comedy films, and later became a mainstay as pub landlady Peggy Mitchell in the popular television soap opera "EastEnders".

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014 and campaigned for better care for those suffering with dementia and associated diseases.

Her husband, Scott Mitchell, who was at her side in the London care home when she died, said Windsor's "final weeks were typical of how she lived her life".

He added she was "full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end".

Mitchell said he, her family and friends would remember her with "love, a smile and affection for the many years of her love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives and the entertainment she gave to so many thousands of others during her career".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who met Windsor at Downing Street last year to highlight concerns over dementia care and once had a cameo with her in "EastEnders", led the tributes.

"So sad about Barbara Windsor, so much more than a great pub landlady & Carry On star," he tweeted.

"She campaigned for the lonely and the vulnerable -- and cheered the world up with her own British brand of harmless sauciness & innocent scandal."

Windsor -- often known as "Babs" -- was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for her work with charities supporting the elderly and veterans, and her services to entertainment.

Born in the east London area of Shoreditch, the actress changed her name from Barbara Deeks in 1953, taking inspiration from the queen's coronation in the same year.

She made her debut in London's West End at the age of 13 but it was the "Carry On" films, which ran from the 1950s to 1970s, that made her name and turned her into a very British sex symbol.

The "Carry On" humour mined a particular British tradition of saucy seaside postcards, and was rich with innuendo, double entendres and high camp.

Windsor, who never modified her Cockney accent, recalled it was a single scene in "Carry On Camping" (1969) when her bikini top flew off during an exercise scene that made her famous.

But she was also a tabloid favourite, not least because of her colourful love life, which included affairs with "Carry On" co-star Sid James and marriage to Ronnie Knight.

Knight, whom she later divorced after he fled to Spain while wanted in connection with a security van robbery, was an associate of notorious gangland figures Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

She married Mitchell in 2000.

© Agence France-Presse

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