Tributes are pouring in for Joan Washington after her husband, actor Richard E Grant, announced her death on Twitter this morning.
Voice and dialect coach Washington was married to Grant, 64, for 35 years. He and Washington married in 1986 and share a daughter, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom, from Washington’s previous relationship.
Announcing the sad news on Twitter, Richard tweeted a sweet video of them dancing together to Only You by The Platters along with the message: “Joan – Love of my Life & Giver of Life to our daughter Olivia.
“Our hearts are broken with the loss of your Life last night. 35 years married & 38 together.
“To be truly known and seen by you, is your immeasurable gift. Do not forget us, sweet Monkee-mine.”
He did not share her cause of death.
Aberdeen-born Washington worked in the film industry for almost 40 years, and worked with a-listers such as Anne Hathaway, Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Stone.
Among her early projects in the mid-80s were Yentl starring Barbra Streisand, Highlander, and The Bounty, featuring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Recent years saw her work on features such as The Witches, where she coached Hathaway for the part of the Grand High Witch, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ black comedy The Favourite, where she worked with Stone.
Speaking to The Independent in 2011, Grant told of how their fairytale romance started after first meeting her at the Actors’ Centre in London in 1982. However at the time, she was married to someone else.
“She was teaching an accent session with a bunch of actors, and I thought she had the most wonderful voice and huge, sort of monkey eyes. She seemed fairly frenetic. I thought that she was really cute and all that. It was December 1982,” he said.
He decided to propose after he spent six weeks apart from her when he went to Africa for Christmas. Although she said she didn’t want to get married again, she said yes when he popped the question upon arriving back at Heathrow Airport.
He said: “We didn’t have a big church wedding or anything: it was in a register office. There is something about when you say all that stuff, when you feel that you’ve met the right person. Before I got married, I didn’t hold any store by it. My parents were divorced when I was 11 and it made such a profound impression on my life that I suppose I thought that by not getting married, you could avoid your life being carved in two. But that changed.”
Comedians Sarah Millican, Dawn French and David Baddiel were among those sending messages of support, along with actress Eva Pope.
Pope, who appeared in Coronation Street, wrote: “Oh my heart aches for you….deep condolences Richard. She taught me in that very house..”
French tweeted: “Joan Washington will ALWAYS be remembered by those of us who knew her & were taught by her, as a PHENOMENAL WOMAN. So much love to @RichardEGrant & all the family.”
Additional reporting from PA.