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West End Sound Of Music actress Jean Bayless dies aged 88 after battle with bone cancer

West End Sound Of Music actress Jean Bayless dies aged 88 after battle with bone cancer

  • Jean played Maria in the original Sound Of Music West End production in 1961
  • The actress passed away on Friday, her family announced
  •  She is survived by her sons, Daniel and Adam, and her five granddaughters

West End star Jean Bayless, who played Maria in the original Sound Of Music London production, has died. 

The actress’ family announced Jean passed away on Friday aged 88 after a battle with bone cancer. 

Jean was best known for playing the leading role in the West End musical when it premiered at the Palace Theatre on May 18, 1961, and ran for 2,385 performances.  

West End star Jean Bayless, who played Maria in the original Sound Of Music London production, has died

The actress is survived by her sons, Daniel and Adam, and her five granddaughters.    

Following her death her son Daniel told the BBC: ‘She was auditioned for the Sound of Music by [composer] Richard Rodgers himself. He said “You’re the girl I want for my new show” and away she went.

‘She continued to work and sing her little heart out all her life. She was a very gregarious and hospitable person, a very cool woman.

RIP: The actress' family announced Jean passed away on Friday aged 88 after a battle with bone cancer (pictured as Maria in 1961)

RIP: The actress’ family announced Jean passed away on Friday aged 88 after a battle with bone cancer (pictured as Maria in 1961)

‘If there were more people like her it would make the world a happier place.’

Jean’s nephew Richard added that she was the ‘most gorgeous person’ and that it was ‘an absolute privilege to have her as a wonderful member of the family’. 

Jean married David Johnson in New York in around 1955, while she was playing the Broadway production of The Boyfriend – a role in which she took over from Julie Andrews. 

Hollywood star: Jean pictured with Audrey Hepburn at Ciros Club in 1950

Hollywood star: Jean pictured with Audrey Hepburn at Ciros Club in 1950

Mother-of-two: The actress is survived by her sons, Daniel and Adam, and her five granddaughters (pictured with Daniel and Adam in 1964)

Mother-of-two: The actress is survived by her sons, Daniel and Adam, and her five granddaughters (pictured with Daniel and Adam in 1964)

Acting career; Jean pictured with actor Dermot Walsh and Lynn Kennington in 1972

Acting career; Jean pictured with actor Dermot Walsh and Lynn Kennington in 1972 

Jean and David had first met at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham, the publication reports. 

The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened in 1959 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, out of nine nominations. 

The first London production of the Sound Of Music, starring Jean opened at the Palace Theatre in 1961. 

The show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals since then. 

It was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards. 

Christopher, who played the Von Trapp family patriarch in the 1965 musical flick, passed away peacefully at his home aged 91 in Connecticut earlier this week.  

The Sound of Music was the last musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Oscar Hammerstein died of stomach cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere. 

The Sound Of Music was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards.

The Sound Of Music was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards.

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