Actress Sally Ann Howes, who played Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, has died at the age of 91.

Ms Howes died on Sunday, The Times has reported.

The London-born star began her acting career at the age of 12 when she starred in 1943 comedy-drama Thursday's Child. From then she enjoyed a career spanning over six decades in film, television and on the stage.

It was a turn in My Fair Lady on Broadway in 1958, after replacing Julie Andrews in the role of Eliza Doolittle, that made her a star.

"It was absolutely wonderful when you’re in probably the greatest show that’s ever been written. It’s certainly up among the top 10," Howes told Playbill in 2007. "I enjoyed it immensely. I loved the American audiences, I loved the show."

She won a Tony Award for her performance in a 1963 production of Brigadoon.

But it was her role in 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that she might be best remembered for. She played opposite Dick Van Dyke in the film as Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of a wealthy businessman.

She was married four times, including an eight-year marriage with Tony-winning composer Richard Adler. She then married literary agent Douglas Rae in 1972 and they were together until his death in September.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on St Stephen's Day on RTÉ2 at 3.20pm.