Billie Whitelaw, Omen star and Samuel Beckett's 'perfect actress', dies

Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Baylock in movie The Omen. The British actress, famous for her intense collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett who wrote several roles for her, died on Sunday aged 82. -- PHOTO: INTERNET  
Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Baylock in movie The Omen. The British actress, famous for her intense collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett who wrote several roles for her, died on Sunday aged 82. -- PHOTO: INTERNET  

LONDON (AFP) - British actress Billie Whitelaw, famous for her intense collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett who wrote several roles for her, died on Sunday aged 82, her son told the BBC.

Described by Beckett as the "perfect actress", Whitelaw became the playwright's muse and they created a series of experimental performances together.

One of the most famous was Beckett's monologue Not I in which only her mouth was visible to the theatre audience. "This relentless mouth that wouldn't let go", she said later in an interview.

"He was so demanding, he was so meticulous, if you said an "oh" instead of an "ah"...from the stalls you'd hear "Oh lord" or you'd see his head going down into his hands," she said.

"But because I knew he was radiating love and he cared and he wanted you to be perfect, and it's not possible but he wanted you to be perfect, it didn't upset me."

The two had a close relationship until his death in 1989, after which she gave lectures on his drama.

Her career on stage and screen won her a series of awards and spanned over half a century, from playing the mother of notorious gangsters in the 1990 biopic The Krays to her most recent appearance in the 2007 comedy Hot Fuzz.

One of her most famous roles was as a demonic nanny in the 1976 horror film The Omen.

She was married to British actor Peter Vaughan, and later to writer Robert Muller.

Whitelaw's son Matthew Muller told the BBC she had died at a nursing home in London on Sunday.

"I could not have asked for a more loving mum," Muller said.

"She had an incredible career - but first and foremost she was my mum, and that's who I will miss."