Yootha Joyce was an English stage, movie, and television actress who spent two decades mostly playing intensely sinister or comedic supporting roles before she emerged to stardom on British television as the sexually frustrated Mildred Roper on the sitcom Man About the House (which was retooled for America as Three's Company) and its spin-off, George and Mildred (which was redone in the United States as The Ropers). In both of the series, she was teamed opposite character actor Brian Murphy, who played her husband, George.
Born Yootha Joyce Needham in London in 1927, she was the daughter of singer Hurst Needham and concert pianist Jessica Revitt. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where one of her fellow students was a young Roger Moore. She pursued a career as a working actress across the 1950s, achieving her first success with the Joan Littlewood theater company, through which she also made her screen debut in 1963 with the feature Sparrows Can't Sing. Joyce became known on British television over the next few years in one-off supporting roles, and international audiences began discovering her starting in 1964 with her work in Jack Clayton's feature film The Pumpkin Eater, working alongside Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch. Joyce reached a somewhat younger and wider audience -- especially in subsequent television broadcasts of the movie -- with her powerful performance as the sinister servant in Silvio Narizzano's chiller Fanatic (U.S. title: Die! Die! My Darling!, 1965), working in a cast that included Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers.