Joanna Dickens Dies: 'Victor Victoria' Cockroach Victim

Joanna Dickens, Victor Victoria
Joanna Dickens, Victor Victoria

Joanna Dickens, whose best-known film work was a bit part in Blake Edwards' musical comedy Victor Victoria, has died. She was 72.

In Victor Victoria (1982), Julie Andrews stars as an impoverished actress-singer who achieves success onstage by impersonating a man impersonating a woman. Before all that gender-bending, Andrews' character goes to a fancy restaurant where she plans to eat for free – by using a big, disgusting cockroach as an excuse for not paying the bill.

Things don't work out quite as planned when the cockroach goes AWOL, landing on Joanna Dickens' leg. Once she realizes she has company, Dickens screams in horror and all but destroys the restaurant.

Among Dickens' other film roles were Big Jo, the dancing teacher in Alan Parker's Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), and a small part as a cook in the Sean Connery vehicle Never Say Never Again (1983). She also played a dominatrix of sorts in Terry Jones' comedy Personal Services (1987), starring Julie Walters, and was cast in the Peter Greenaway effort Drowning by Numbers (1991).

According to The Stage, “in between jobs, she looked after the homes of, among others, Alan Bates, and proved herself to be a frighteningly adept debt collector. Towards the end of her life, she had a grand home in Bloomsbury where she threw frequent sumptuous parties. Her extensive frame concealed an equally large heart.”

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