Corries first Blanche star before secret replacement – suicide to jail time

Even the most avid Coronation Street fan might not know that Maggie Jones didn’t always play matriarch Blanche Hunt from her inception.

Known as an iconic comedy character, Blanche was mum to Deidre and always on hand with a witty remark or eye-rolling moment.

But she was actually played by another actress entirely for two episodes of the ITV soap, before the star tragically took her own life at the age of just 48.

To commemorate what would have been Maggie Jones’ 88th birthday, we take a look into the life of first Blanche actress Patricia Cutts.

From her arrest and subsequent jail time to her Hollywood career working with legends like Alfred Hitchcock, she did it all.

Famous parents

Patricia Cutts was born in London in 1926 to a very famous father, writer and director Graham Cutts.

Her mum was actress Robin Coles, dad Graham’s second wife after he originally married Lizzie Hart, with their first child sadly dying in infancy.

She attended boarding school, but ran away aged just 14 to join a theatre company.

Graham was known as one of the leading British directors of the 1920s, and directed everything from Sherlock Holmes flicks to Alfred Hitchcock projects like The Prude’s Fall and The Passionate Adventure.

He worked with iconic stars including Hitchcock, Noel Coward and Gracie Fields before his death in 1958.

It was perhaps her dad’s sway in the world of film which landed Pat her first roles working with Hitchcock.

Hollywood fame and personal life

Before finding short-lived fame on the Corrie cobbles, Patricia worked in Hollywood and appeared in numerous American films and TV shows.

She had previously studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Most famously, she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Perry Mason, along with flicks like North By Northwest and TV programmes including The Lucy Show.

Used to having a famous family, Patricia married William Nichols in the 1960s.

However, by 1963 she was divorced, and later had a relationship with John Findlay, welcoming a son, Nicholas.

Tragedy struck in Patricia’s life in 1954 when her mother died, and she collapsed after attending her mum’s funeral. Newspaper reports at the time stated that she had nursed her mother for days without sleep in the days leading up to her death.

She went on to appear as Blanche in two episodes of Corrie in 1974 just before her death.

Arrest and jail time

In 1958, Patricia was arrested at her home in Hollywood and jailed on suspicion of a felony hit and run, after she allegedly fled the scene of a Los Angeles traffic accident.

She was released on bail and eventually went to trial for the charge, which was finally dismissed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Witnesses testified to seeing Patricia talk with the driver of the other car following the accident, but she was so shaken by the crash that she didn’t remember talking to Patricia or even seeing her.

At the trial, Deputy District Attorney Malcolm Harries informed Patricia that technically she should have provided her name to the driver, but the case was still dismissed.

Tragic suicide

The same year she made her Coronation Street debut, Patricia was found dead in her Chelsea apartment – leaving behind her son Nicholas and grandchildren Thalia Baker, Brandon Baker and Eylse Baker.

She was just 48 years old.

An inquest into her death ruled a verdict of suicide by barbiturate poisoning, having taken an overdose of tablets.

Her body was found by friends at her flat in Elm Park Gardens in September that year.

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8pm on ITV.

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