June Brown, Eastenders veteran, dies at 95

The star had sephardi ancestry and was descended from a famous Jewish boxer


The legendary actress famous for her portrayal of Eastenders mainstay Dot Cotton has passed away at the age of 95.

June Brown, who had a decades-long career in showbusiness, started acting after World War Two.

The actress grew up in Suffolk and was of Algerian (Sephardic Jewish), Dutch, Irish, Italian, and Scottish descent.

During the War, she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service and said it was during this time that she discovered acting.

In the 1950s, she became a newsreel operator in a cinema and told the BBC at the time that the newsreels of the liberation of Belsen horrified her. She said: "It was extremely shocking for a girl of 18... We were a very innocent generation."

In 2011, in an epsiode of Who Do You Think You Are? Brown found out that her great-great-grandfather, Isaac Bitton, was a champion bare-knuckle fighter in London's East End. He was described in a 1908 Jewish Chronicle as one of the "Jews who were equal to the best".

The show traced her roots through Spain and Amsterdam and back to 17th-century Algeria. "They talk about the wandering Jew and they seem to have wandered all the time," she said.

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