'Beverly Hills, 90210' actress Denise Dowse dies aged 64

Veteran performer was being treated for meningitis

Actress Denise Dowse built an impressive career in television and film. Getty Images
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Actress Denise Dowse has died aged 64 after suffering from meningitis.

The news was announced on Sunday by her sister Tracey Dowse on Instagram.

“Denise Yvonne Dowse was the most amazing sister, a consummate, illustrious actress, mentor and director.

“She was my very best friend and final family member. Denise loved all of you. I know that she is watching over us with all the love she has,” Tracey said.

“I am so grateful for all the calls, text messages, direct messages, and silent prayers for my sister.

“We could not have made it so gracefully and painlessly without all of the prayer warriors around the world. Thank you for giving so selflessly.”

It was Tracey who revealed the actress was in a medically induced coma because of a “virulent form of meningitis” on August 6.

According to the Mayo Clinic in the US, meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cords, with symptoms including a headache, fever and a stiff neck.

Viral infections are a common cause of meningitis and while some cases can improve without treatment, others can be life-threatening.

Denise's co-stars and colleagues have taken to social media to pay tribute to an actress whose career spanned over three decades.

“This is insanely heartbreaking,” said actor Ian Ziering.

“Throughout all my years working on Beverly Hills, 90210, my scenes with Denise will always be remembered with the utmost respect for her talent, and fondness for the loving soul she was.”

Actor Jason Kelley described Dowse as a mentor.

"Denise was my first professional stage director and coach. The wisdom and standard she demanded provided the foundations of my theatrical craft," he said.

“We enjoyed bragging about our Virginia roots and she encouraged me to trust my instincts.”

Born in Hawaii to a naval officer father, Dowse got her career start in the late 1980s, having made appearances in a string of sitcoms such as Alf, Full House, Murphy Brown and Seinfeld before taking on more dramatic roles in ER, The Mentalist and House.

Her most recognisable character remains the strict and compassionate high school principal Yvonne Teasley, a recurring role she played in the hit teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210 from 1991 to 2000.

In addition to television, Dowse also landed supporting roles in films such as the Academy Award-winning biopic Ray (2004) and the 2005 sports drama Coach Carter.

Denise's last role was in the film A Cloud So High, released in March.

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Updated: August 14, 2022, 8:22 AM