AN ACTRESS who starred in a cult 1970s TV show before making South Croydon her home for nearly 40 years has died.
Dolores Harding, more widely known by her acting name Dolores Mantez, died on November 30 aged 74, after being diagnosed with cancer in September.
Born in Liverpool before moving to London to work as a singer, she was best known for her role as the purple-haired Lieutenant Nina Barry in Gerry Anderson's series UFO.
Paying tribute to his mother, her only child Rob Harding told the Advertiser: "To me she will always be mum.
"But to have that character, to get out and sing in front of people, you have to have something about you and she carried that on to the end; she was not afraid to be different and unique."
Dolores played Lieutenant Barry in 23 of the 26 episodes of UFO – about aliens invading earth – attracting a strong fanbase that exists to this day.
Moving into acting after being spotted by an agent, she also appeared in TV shows such as The Avengers and Shadow Squad, and in stage musicals touring the West End and Europe.
Mr Harding, 38, added: "In the 60s and early 70s there were not that many parts for mixed race people, so she was a shining light in that area.
"She had quite a hard childhood so she was probably going to work in a factory or as a seamstress, but she had this quality of singing and she liked using her talent.
"Even after leaving UFO, she still enjoyed going to the conventions and meeting the fans. One of the fan groups flew her out to Italy, so she was treated well."
Dolores and her husband, Robert Harding, moved to Barham Road, South Croydon, in the 1970s, Dolores retiring from acting when their son was born. Mr Harding, who had a business in Selsdon Road, died in 1999.
Dolores died at St Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham and a low-key funeral was held for her at Croydon Crematorium on December 17, conducted by the Reverend Philip Thrower.
Residents in Barham Road this week fondly remembered their kind neighbour who was "full of fun".
George Hudd, who has lived with his family in the quiet cul-de-sac since before Dolores moved in, said: "She was full of fun and she was very kind. I think 'effervescent' is the right word. You never heard her say a nasty word about anyone."
Neighbour Paulette Grosvenor, 40, said: "One time she brought us a big bowl of fruit and said, 'This is too much for me, why don't you have it for the children'.
"That was the sort of person she was; she was very kind."