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White Christmas star Anne Whitfield dies in ‘unexpected incident’ aged 85

White Christmas star Anne Whitfield has died aged 85, her family have shared.

Whitfield played Susan Waverly, the grand-daughter of General Waverly, in the 1954 film featuring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.

Her death comes following an “unexpected incident” during a walk in her neighbourhood in Washington.

Family have released a statement confirming that the actor passed away on 15 February surrounded by her family at a hospital in Yakima, Washington following the event.

In an emotional tribute to the actor, her family wrote: “The life of Anne Langham Whitfield Phillips was a beautiful one, with every second used to uplift the world and those around her.

“Through the kindness of neighbours who provided expert medical support, [her] family had the gift to say goodbye and express love and gratitude, a gift we will always cherish.”

Whitfield was born in Mississippi in 1938 and entered into acting at the age of four with her mother as her agent and acting coach. After starring in White Christmas she went on to have a successful career in television starring in episodes of Manhunt, The Untouchables and The Six Million Dollar Man, among others.

She left Hollywood in the 1970s and moved to Olympia in Washington where it is said she became devoted to “causes that promote Peace and preserve nature.”

White Christmas became a holiday classic and was the highest grossing musical film at the time. It was most well known for its Irvin Berlin theme song, White Christmas, still regularly played during the holiday period.

Anne played Susan Waverly in the movie (Paramount)
Anne played Susan Waverly in the movie (Paramount)

The movie follows two singers as they perform a show in rural Vermont. There they run into their formal Commander who is experiencing financial difficulties and they are determined to help him. Whitfield played the granddaughter in the movie which acted as her breakout role.

“Just this past December during the holidays, Annie was able to watch White Christmas with her family on the movie’s 70th anniversary,” her obituary reads.

She is survived by three children and seven grandchildren who family say were the most “precious part” of her life.

Her funeral will be held on 22 March with mourners encouraged to make donations to charity or plant trees in her memory.