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DIED APRIL 16, 2005

Kay Walsh, a British character actress who starred in several films by her director husband David Lean, died April 16 in London, British newspapers reported Friday. No cause of death was given. She was 90.

Born to an Irish family in London, Ms. Walsh began her performing career as a chorus girl before moving into films. She was already a busy performer in low-budget pictures when she met Lean in 1936. They married in 1940 -- it was her first marriage, and his second.

Ms. Walsh starred in Lean's wartime flag-wavers "In Which We Serve" and "This Happy Breed" -- both scripted by Noel Coward -- before playing doomed, kindhearted Nancy in Lean's 1948 adaptation of Dickens' "Oliver Twist."

Ms. Walsh helped her husband with many aspects of his films, including casting and writing. She had a writing credit on Lean's magisterial 1946 version of Dickens' "Great Expectations," and conceived the famous opening scene of "Oliver Twist," in which Oliver's penniless mother gives birth outside a workhouse.

The marriage was not entirely happy; Lean had many affairs, and the couple divorced in 1949.

Ms. Walsh appeared in more than 50 films, including the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Stage Fright" with Marlene Dietrich and "The Horse's Mouth" (1958) opposite Alec Guinness. Her final role was in the Cold War drama "Night Crossing" in 1981.

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