John Le Carré’s actress half-sister Charlotte Cornwell has died at 71 following a battle with cancer.
The accomplished TV, film and stage actress starred in BAFTA-winning TV series Rock Follies.
The hit 1970s TV show saw her play one of the fictional Little Ladies pop group, along with Rula Lenska and Julie Covington.
The show’s soundtrack hit number one in the UK pop charts in April 1976 – knocking Status Quo off the top spot.
Charlotte’s death comes a month after le Carré died aged 89 after falling ill with pneumonia.
Le Carré based the main character in his 1983 spy novel The Little Drummer Girl on Charlotte.
He encouraged her career and is said to have been disappointed when Diane Keaton was cast as her character in the movie version of the book.
Charlotte once said of John: “I’ve always felt embarrassed about the way I fell into acting because everyone I know wanted to do it from a frighteningly early age.
“I was completely directionless until he sat me down and said ‘Come on, sis, what are you going to do? I think you’re creative, have you ever thought about acting?'”
Le Carre’s instinct proved spot on.
Prior to making her name with her hit TV series, Charlotte got her start on stage.
She trained in London before moving to the Bristol Old Vic, then becoming a lead actress for three years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She would later join the National Theatre.
On TV she made cameos in shows including The West Wing and The Mentalist.
Along with her work on stage and TV, the actress appeared in multiple films including a 1990 Hollywood adaptation of Le Carré’s The Russia House, in which she played Charlotte.
Her other films included 1990’s The Krays, 1974’s Stardust and 1997’s The Saint.
Charlotte died 16 January 2021 of cancer. She is survived by her daughter with actor Kenneth Cranham, Nancy Cranham, 39.
Charlotte’s firstborn child was given up for adoption following his birth when she was just 16.
But she was later tearfully reunited with stylist Martin Bayliss 46, after a mutual acquaintance spotted the close resemblance between them.
Charlotte was pre-deceased by both LeCarré, born David Cornwell, and her half-brother Rupert Cornwell, an award winning journalist.
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