The majority of On the Buses star Anna Karen’s estate was left to former EastEnders co-star Sophie Lawrence, it has been revealed. Karen died at the age of 85 in a house fire.
Probate records show that Miss Karen, who played Olive Rudge, the beaten wife in the bawdy ITV sitcom from 1969 to 1973, left £427,197.
After paying for her funeral and legal fees, the inheritance tax, and leaving £1,500 to another friend, her close friend Miss Lawrence, age 50, inherited 65% of her net estate.
Miss Lawrence starred as Diane Butcher on EastEnders from 1988 to 1991, and she has since made multiple guest appearances on the BBC soap.
Miss Karen, whose real name was Ann Duggan, played Aunt Sal, the sister of Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor), on EastEnders from 1996 to 2017.
Her Grant and Phil Mitchell aunt was a regular at family celebrations.
After falling asleep while smoking in February, Miss Karen’s neighbors believe she started a fire in her Ilford, East London, terrace home.
Miss Lawrence was born and raised in Ilford, so she also has ties to the area. The actress, who is now a resident of Norwich, made it to number twenty-one on the UK singles chart with a cover of Donna Summer’s 1977 smash hit Love’s Unkind in 1991.
Bazaar & Rummage, a comedy show based on a book by Sue Townsend, featured Miss Karen and Miss Lawrence on tour at one point.
Miss Karen’s stepdaughter Gloria Gill, the daughter of her late actor husband Terry Duggan, was left one-fifth of the remainder of her estate in her will.
The remaining 2.5% was left to the Actors’ Benevolent Fund and an additional eighth was left to four friends or relatives.
Miss Karen, a native of South Africa, started out as a stripper before enrolling in theater school. She played the repressed sibling of Reg Varney’s bus driver Stan Butler in 74 episodes of On the Buses and three sequel films.
Her dowdy character, played by Michael Robbins, was funny because of her ineptness in the kitchen and because she was the target of sexist comments from her husband, Arthur.
In addition to her role as Olive on The Rag Trade, which ran from 1977 to 1978, Miss Karen made appearances in the Carry On films Carry On Camping and Carry On Loving.
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