The Rag Trade star Miriam Karlin dies at 85

Miriam Karlin in The Rag Trade

Miriam Karlin in The Rag Trade

The actress who starred as Golde in the original London production of Fiddler on the Roof has died of cancer at the age of 85.

Miriam Karlin, born Miriam Samuels to Orthodox Jewish parents in Hampstead, went on to appear in films including A Clockwork Orange and The Entertainer, the television series The Rag Trade and a long list of West End plays.

In 1990 she became the first woman to take the lead in Harold Pinter's play The Caretaker.

When not performing, Ms Karlin dedicated her life to a number of political causes, from support of euthanasia to the Labour Party. She also supported the Accord campaign to bring religious schools under greater state control.

She was awarded an OBE in 1975 for services to trade unions and welfare work

Recalling her iconic role as shop steward Paddy in The Rag Trade, her friend and fellow actor Sir Antony Sher said she was a great actess and a great lady.

"She gave a tremendous performance as the Jewish mother, full of power and anger," he said. "But there was always a twinkle in her eye."

    Last updated: 11:52am, June 6 2011