Mollie Sugden

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Mollie Sugden (Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
LONDON (AP) - British comic actress Mollie Sugden, who played the formidable saleswoman Mrs. Slocombe in the BBC's long running comedy series "Are You Being Served?", has died aged 86.

Sugden built a career playing strong-willed, overbearing women - she played a snobbish mother in "The Liver Birds," a comedy about two women sharing an apartment in Liverpool in the 1970s - but it was her role as Betty Slocombe that made her a household name.

As the bossy saleswoman who dominated the underwear section at the Grace Brothers department store, Sugden delivered double entendres in a perfectly outraged voice, shaking her tightly curled, dyed hair.

The show ran from 1973 to 1985 and at its height attracted audiences of over 20 million.

Sugden was born in Keighley, in northern England, in July 1922, and trained at London's prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She met her husband William Moore in 1956 while they were both acting in t heater. They married two years later and their twin sons were born six years after that.

Moore died nine years ago. Sugden's agent Joan Reddin said her two sons Robin and Simon Moore were with the actress when she died July 1.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press
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