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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Seamus Duff

June Brown wrote that she blamed herself for her first husband's suicide in biography

June Brown blamed herself for the death of her first husband – who committed suicide in 1957, seven years after they tied-the-knot.

The late EastEnders actress – who died on Sunday, aged 95 – was married to an actor named John Garley in 1950, having fallen for each other while performing at the Old Vic.

The pair tied-the-knot months after meeting and enjoyed an eventful marriage which included indiscretions on both sides as June and John cheated on each other but salvaged their relationship.

John sadly took his own life in 1957 by gassing himself via their home gas fire – and June wrote in her autobiography, titled Before The Year Dot, that she blamed herself for his death.

June Brown passed away on Sunday evening (Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock)

She wrote: “I walked into the bedroom and there was Johnny, lying on the bed, the gas fire propped up next to him.”

She explained: “Suicide was still a criminal offence in the late-Fifties. I’d got him breathing again but it was obvious he’d suffered severe brain damage

“He lasted three days in hospital before dying on May 8.”

June felt guilty as she had left money for John to buy more gas to heat their home, and questions if life would have been different if she hadn’t made that choice.

June was married to an actor named John Garley in 1950 – but he took his own life in 1957 (Kettering Telegraph newspaper)

She wrote: “I didn’t want to think that if I hadn’t left him the one and eight pence he wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

The actress went on to marry a second time, tying-the-knot with the actor Robert Arnold in 1958.

Together, June and Robert welcomed six children in the space of seven years – although one of their children sadly died in infancy.

June and Robert remained married until his death of Lewy-body dementia in 2003.

The EastEnders star said she felt guilty about her husband's suicide in her autobiography, Before The Year Dot (BBC)
She later married the actor Robert Arnold and they welcomed six children together – although one tragically died (REX/Shutterstock)

Soap fans were devastated on Monday when it was revealed June – who played Dot Cotton on EastEnders since the show was created in 1985 - has passed away.

An EastEnders spokesperson confirmed June's passing, stating: "We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved June Brown, OBE, MBE, sadly passed away last night.

"There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten.

"June created one of the most iconic characters in Dot Cotton, not just in soap but in British television, and having appeared in 2,884 episodes, June's remarkable performances created some of EastEnders' finest moments.

"We send all our love and deepest sympathies to June's family and friends. A very bright light has gone out at EastEnders today but we shall all be raising a sweet sherry in June's memory.

"Rest in peace, our dearest June. You will never be forgotten."

Co-star Adam Woodyatt, who is the only remaining original cast member of the long-running BBC series, lead tributes to the star, sharing a photo of June on his Instagram page.

Ian Beale actor Adam Woodyatt lead tributes to June following the EastEnders star's shock death (

The star – who has been on leave from EastEnders since last year – wrote: “I’m lost for words, something June never was. So many memories, so much fun. Just purely and simply an incredible woman who had the most incredible life and career, I was fortunate to have shared a small part of it.”

He added: “They never made you a Dame (we did try), but to me you will always be Dame Brown.”

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