The tragic suicide of Fritha Goodey last week robbed the profession of a beautiful and gifted young actress. At the time of her death she was rehearsing a revival of Terence Rattigan’s Man and Boy, opposite David Suchet, at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford.
Goodey was born on October 23, 1972 and grew up in Teddington. She was trained at LAMDA, where her potential was spotted by the director Di Trevis. A couple of years laterTravis cast her as the eye-catching Odette in her production of Remembrance of Things Past at the National. She went on to appear in other National Theatre productions, including She Stoops to Conquer and Romeo and Juliet.
Goodey’s work in TV and films included roles in Roger, Roger, Dr Willoughby, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and the film About a Boy. The critic Michael Coveney, writing about her in The Guardian, said it would have taken just “one special role” to launch her career into the big time.
Max Stafford-Clark, who directed her in Some Explicit Polaroids (1999) and A Laughing Matter (2002), in which she played David Garrick’s wife, said she was “an actress of enormous ability and extraordinary looks”, as well as being “a joy to work with”.
He went on: “Because Fritha was so striking and beautiful I always thought that was both an advantage and a disadvantage in the theatre where you get cast by your looks so often. She was wonderful as Mrs Garrick and I think in time she would probably have become more of a character actress. She had a curiosity and interest about the world that wasn’ always fulfilled by her work.”
Shortly before her death , Goodey visited the final run-through of Stafford-Clark’s touring production of Macbeth, in which her good friend Monica Dolan was playing Lady Macbeth. “She seemed cheerful and friendly,” said the director. “There was absolutely no inkling that was going to make a gesture like that.”
Dolan paid tribute to Goodey’s empathic skills: “She knew immediately how people were feeling and she loved watching rehearsals, even when she wasn’t involved.”
Her agent Michael Emptage said: “Although she was very talented, Fritha did set herself very high standards. She wanted to do a good job, and she wanted to achieve a result. Her career was building and she was very well respected by all the casting agents. She was about to break through in a big way.”
To her many friends and colleagues in the profession, Goodey always appeared friendly, warm and charming, although privately she had battled with anoxeria since her teenage years.
Goodey died on September 5, aged 31, and is survived her parents, Glenn and Sally, and her older sister, Tabitha.