Laughter maker Rita is dead
By PAMELA HODGSON
COMEDY actress Rita Webb one of the best known faces on TV, died yesterday in a London Hospital aged 77.
During 40 years she appeared in thousands of comedy shows on TV on stage and in films.
She had been ill with cancer and had been in hospital for three weeks.
Rita 4ft. 10in. tall with 46 inch hips, 44 inch bust and a raucous Cockney accent, often laughed: 'If they are looking for a old hag they send for me.'
She said recently: 'I was a dramatic actress until 1949. Then one day I worked with a comedian. From that day to this, I've only played ugly, funny women as a foil to almost every famous British television comedian.'
Though her face was known to millions, Rita's name escaped many of her fans. One actress described her as 'the best unknown in the business.'
Among stars she appeared with were Ken Dodd, Benny Hill, Spike Milligan, Frankie Howard, Eric Sykes and Tony Hancock.
She knew that her looks were her fortune. She said: 'I feel sorry for pretty actresses. They are ten a million and lucky to get offered decent work from one month to the next. I have to turn work down.
Rita was married for 40 years to music teacher Al Jeffery and they lived all those years in the same Bayswater house.
They met shortly after she ran away form home at 15 to become a chorus girl at the Metropolitan Music Hall in Edgware Road London.
After their marrage, her banjo playing, guitarist husband gave up his career to promote hers. Theirs was one of the happiest marriages in showbuisness.
Her husband was 'heart broken' yesterday and was being consoled by friends and relatives.
Last night comedian Charlie Chester said: Rita was every inch a lady, a nice nice lady.' And comedy actor Arthur Mullard said: She was a lovely woman, a lady.'
Daily Mail - Monday August 31 1981