The British soap star was taking a break from her show, Coronation Street, to battle an illness, but was expected to return in the new year. It was revealed that Kirkbride was considering quitting her long-running role as Deirdre Barlow on the show just a few days before she died, according to the Daily Mail.
Kirkbride began appearing on the soap opera back in the '70s. She had played Deirdre for 43 years and starred in 1,439 episodes, making her one of the longest-running soap actors ever. She was known for her large spectacles and her husky voice.
According to BBC News, Kirkbride's husband, David Beckett, as well as the show's cast and crew are "heartbroken and deeply saddened" by her death.
It's clear from social media that the rest of the world is mourning the loss of the iconic actress, as well.
Not only was her name trending worldwide, but comments poured in from the entertainment industry paying homage to Kirkbride and her work.
We have lost a wonderful northern actress can't quite believe the lovely Anne Kirkbride has passed away! Rest In Peace— Lisa Jane riley (@Reallisariley) January 19, 2015
I am saddened to hear of Anne Kirkbride's passing. I pray for her family and friends to have strength at this sad time... #ripAnneKirkbride— Shona McGarty (@ShonaBM) January 19, 2015
My beautiful darling friend, Anne Kirkbride, passed away in a room filled with love. God Bless, my Darling Girl! Peace and rest!— Beverley Callard (@Beverleycallard) January 19, 2015
So very sad to hear our lovely Anne Kirkbride has died. One of the true icons of @itvcorrie. We will all miss you. The nations favourite.— Les Dennis (@LesDennis) January 19, 2015
Deirdre 40 years ago in 1975 - R.I.P. Anne Kirkbride pic.twitter.com/Ip2xxL5bmQ— Ian Dempsey (@IanDempsey) January 19, 2015
Kirkbride's costars on Coronation Street also took time to comment on her death to the BBC.
"I feel Anne's loss so personally having worked closely with her for over 40 years," actor William Roache said. "She was such a loving and vibrant person... Coronation Street has lost one of its iconic characters and Anne will be greatly missed.
ITV director of television, Peter Fincham, said, "She created a unique and unforgettable character in Deirdre Barlow and she'll be greatly missed on and off screen."
Ken Farrington, who played Billy Walter on Coronation Street, added, "I'm still a bit shocked. She had just tremendous fun and talent."
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