Fran Wilde was just brilliant. A staunch friend and wonderful company. If she was in the room, you knew about it. Black hair, scarlet lipstick, flashing eyes and then she would be upon you ready for a big hug, even with her walking sticks when her mobility was so compromised during her illness. She was so fascinatingly bohemian, so many gaps in her past. What was her real surname? Not Wilde apparently, though that one suited her to bits. And who knew the feisty American was born in Croydon? Listening to Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the wild side’ at her funeral I was wondering about the tales she could have told me of music and mayhem in the heart of the Californian counter-culture. We never had that conversation. With Fran it was never about her, it was always about you: “How the hell are you? How’re your family? What are you writing? You’re looking great this evening!” She was at the heart of the AWL family and embodied those qualities. So passionate, so supportive, so sharp-witted, so tremendously warm. And when the opening bars to ‘Cabaret’ started up at the beginning of her funeral it was an amazing moment. This wasn’t going to be a sad gathering, but determinedly a celebration: “What use is sitting alone in your room? Come here the music play!...”
Fran was feisty, funny and very perceptive; a lovely and talented actor and a fantastic daughter to her mother who developed Alzheimer’s in her later years. Unfortunately Fran had a relatively rare condition, Turner’s Syndrome, which meant she was born without ovaries. It was psychologically painful, as the one thing Fran wanted most was to have children. Those who got close to Fran experienced the love and attention she might have given to a child, and I count myself lucky to be one of them.
Fran played my wife on several occasions, around 25 years ago, when we were called HAWG, and every single time we laughed ourselves sick in the rehearsal. She was a lovely, unique mix of sassy - the New York background - vulnerable, gifted and very, very funny. A true one-off.
I clearly remember Fran’s raspy New York accent, her deep throaty laugh, and the way she looked very directly at you with her penetrating, dark eyes. A lovely, warm person.
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