17 Jul 2011

Death of actress Googie Withers

8:22 am on 17 July 2011

Actress Googie Withers has died in Australia.

She was born Georgette Lizette Withers in what was then-British India. She died at her home on Friday, aged 94.

She was the first non-Australian to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

She began acting at age 12 and her last role was in the Australian movie Shine (1996).

Withers's family moved back to Britain from India and she began acting at age 12.

She had been given the nickname Googie by her Indian nanny.

She was working as a dancer in a West End production in London when she was offered work in 1935 as a film extra in The Girl in the Crowd.

Withers appeared in dozens of films in the 1930s and 40s, including The Lady Vanishes (1938) by Alfred Hitchcock, opposite Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave.

Later in her career she appeared in several television productions, including Within These Walls (a prison drama) and Hotel du Lac.

In 1958, Withers moved to Australia with her husband, Australian actor John McCallum - who helped create the classic television series, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

They co-starred in 10 films, and lived in Sydney until McCallum died last year at the age of 91.