‘I felt guilty’ EastEnders star June Brown opens up about her first husband’s suicide
IT’S been over 50 years since her first husband died, but June Brown has opened up about Johnny Garley’s tragic death and admitted that she spent a long time feeling guilty about it.
00:01, Fri, Jan 3, 2014
June Brown told Piers Morgan that she felt guilty about her first husband’s death [ITV/Kieron McCarron]
The 86-year-old actress, who is best-known for playing Dot Cotton in EastEnders, married the actor when she was just 23 but was left devastated when he committed suicide in 1957.
On the night of Johnny’s death, June explained that she’d gone round to her sister Rosie’s house to stay the night because she couldn’t sleep at home because Johnny “wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating and was talking all the tim”.
“I was exhausted,”she said.”It was very nasty of me and I thought I must have a night’s sleep. I bought half a bottle of wine and I said ‘Isn’t it lovely not having our husbands about, just to two of us,’ and then suddenly I got worried and I said ‘I’ve got to go back, I’ve got to go and see how Johnny is.’
The actress admitted to feeling unloved during her marriage to Robert Arnold [REX]
I ran up all the stairs to the top of the house and the room was full of gas and Johnny was in bed, undressed, everything neatly folded on the chairs and his watch and his money.
“I went back and as soon as I drew up outside the house I saw the curtains were drawn and I just knew something had happened,”she continued.”I ran up all the stairs to the top of the house and the room was full of gas and Johnny was in bed, undressed, everything neatly folded on the chairs and his watch and his money.
“I’d left him a shilling and an eight pence so that he could put a shilling in the gas,”explained June.”He’d left his will and his note to me written on the back of his script.”
Unsurprisingly, June battled with a range of emotions following Johnny’s sad death.
“I felt guilty, partly because of leaving him, I shouldn’t have gone,” she said.
“I did always say to him ‘You won’t do anything foolish will you? You won’t do anything silly?’ but I didn’t say it that time, not for any reason, I just didn’t say it.”
June opened up to Piers Morgan about her marriage and finding love again [ITV/Kieron McCarron]
The actress never lived in their flat again, and met and married actor Bob Arnold a year later.
The couple had their first child Louise in 1959 and very soon afterwards June fell pregnant again, but the baby Chloe was born prematurely and sadly died after just 16 days.
Commenting on the fact that she had six children in seven years, June told Piers: “I know, it was a lot, wasn’t it? I was quite surprised to have the third one.
Asked if she thought she had been a good mother, June replied: “No, I don’t think I was. I think I could’ve been. I wasn’t a natural mother. I love my children but it was a lot of work.”
June has played the role of Dot Cotton in EastEnders for 28 years now [BBC]
Of course, she has played the role of Dot Cotton for 28 years now, and believes that she has been “a bit selfish” by choosing to work.
She also admitted to feeling very unloved during her marriage to Bob – who passed away from Dementia in 2003.
“We just weren’t right for each other,”she said of their relationship.”I did feel very unloved. That was the problem.
June admitted that she ‘can’t be bothered’ to try and find love again at the age of 86 [ITV/Kieron McCarron]
“I used to say ‘I love you’ and he’d say ‘Do you? That’s nice.’ So I thought that isn’t very encouraging, so I didn’t say it again. I wasn’t very happy in that marriage for a lot of the time.”
When asked by Piers who she feels was the great love of her life, the actress responded: “I sometimes wonder if I loved anyone. I did love people at the time.”
The British star, who has also had a successful career, added that she’s not so keen on finding a partner now either, saying: “I can’t be bothered. I’m too selfish now. And I couldn’t be bothered to look after and fuss about somebody else.”
The full interview can be seen on ‘Piers Morgan’s Life Stories’ on ITV1 at 9pm on Friday 3 January.