Maureen Potter dies aged 79

Wednesday 07 April 2004 22.20
Maureen Potter  - Died at her Clontarf home
Maureen Potter - Died at her Clontarf home

Tributes have been paid to the actress and comedienne, Maureen Potter, who has died peacefully at her home in Clontarf in Dublin at the age of 79.

The actress Rosaleen Linehan said Maureen Potter was probably the most talented person she had ever met. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern said her long and distinguished career in the theatre was unparalleled.

Ms Potter is survived by her husband Jack and sons, John and Hugh.

She was loved by generations of theatregoers. Born in 1925 and a fifth generation Dubliner, she was christened Maria Philomena, but was always called by her preferred name, Maureen.

Her first professional engagement was at the age of seven and she went on to distinguish herself as a comedienne and as an outstanding actress in plays by O'Casey, Shaw, Sheridan and Beckett.

As a child impressionist and dancer before the Second World War, Ms Potter toured overseas with the Jack Hilton orchestra and would later recall with distaste performing before Hitler and the other Nazi leaders on a trip to Germany.

The humour of her native city was reflected in decades of pantomime and the 'Gails of Laughter' shows.

Her first role with Jimmy O'Dea was in 1935, and their association continued until his death 30 years later.

Trinity College Dublin honoured Maureen Potter with a doctorate; Dublin bestowed its freedom on her and in 1999, President Mary McAleese was among the distinguished guests at a special tribute night for her.

In 2001, she became the first star to place her handprints in the walk of fame outside her beloved Gaiety Theatre and only in January of this year she appeared on a special Late Late Show to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Abbey Theatre.