The actress was best known for her theatrical work and a stint at ATV’s Crossroads in the 1970s

Jean’s family confirmed today that the actress had died at the age of 88. She became the first female performer in the UK to take on the role of Maria in The Sound of Music, a role she played in the West End in 1960

In the late 40s and 50s, Jean was a regular on stage in both the West End and Broadway.She took on Julie Andrews in the Broadway production of The Boyfriend, and Andrews later took on the role of Mary for the big screen. p>

She married the director David Johnson, who met during her performance at the Theater Royal in Birmingham

“She was auditioned for the Sound of Music by [composer] Richard Rodgers himself in New York,” son Daniel Johnson told BBC News, adding, “He said,” You are the girl that I’m my new one Show wants “and away she went. She kept working and singing her little heart out her whole life”

She first worked with Noele Gordon in the London Palladium panto Humpty Dumpty in 1951 They were reunited in 1971 when Jean joined the cast of the ATV Midlands soap opera Crossroads as cook Cynthia Cunningham.Noele has been the main character of Meg Richardson since his 1964 debut

Further television appearances in the variety series The Good Old Days on the BBC and, more recently, her friend Noele’s work in the documentary The Unforgettable Noele Gordon 2012 for ITV

She repeated her role as Cynthia Cunningham for the Crossroads Fan Club in 2017 and sent a Christmas message “from the motel” to guests and customers

In a 2011 interview with ATV Network, she said she had taken on the Crossroads role when her friend Janet Hargreaves mentioned to Noele Gordon that Jean lived in Birmingham after twenty years they re-established their friendship and the part of Cynthia was written specifically for Jean

Cynthia was a glamorous vixen, estranged from her husband Norman (Edward Phillips) and enjoying the company of younger men, especially Dave Cartwright (John Hamill)

Her two sons Daniel and Adam also appeared as supporting actors in the program when the production was shooting scenes at the Chateau Impney Hotel in 1972

The BBC notes that Jean died in Birmingham on Friday after being diagnosed with bone cancer; Jean is survived by her sons and five granddaughters

“She was a very sociable and hospitable person, a very cool woman If there were more people like her it would make the world happier ”- son Daniel Johnson

Sound of Music

World news – FI – Memory of Jean Bayless