'I've always thought that I wouldn't make old bones': Dawn French on the impact of her father's death

In a new podcast, comedian Dawn French has candidly opened up about the impact her father's death has had on her throughout her life.

Dawn's father committed suicide at 45, when Dawn was just 19, and the actress has confessed that his untimely passing lead her to question her own mortality.

Speaking to Fearne Cotton for her Happy Place podcast, Dawn admitted that up until recently, she though she wouldn't live very long.

In an emotional confession, she said, "Until quite recently, I think I've always thought that I wouldn't make old bones."

60-year-old Dawn continued to share how such a significant death at such a young age impacted her.

"Being 19 and losing your dad made me think, 'Oh God maybe we don't live very long'.

"So I grasped any opportunity I could, but I was aware that I thought, 'I need to get old enough to grow my daughter in to her twenties at least, then she'd manage without me after that'."

Denys Vernon French killed himself in 1977, after filling his car with gas.

However, despite the tragic event, Dawn French admitted that she now realises the negative impact of her dark thoughts.

"I was thinking like that, which is ridiculous.

"It's possibly to do with losing my dad so early. You know, thinking life is a bit fragile and it can be a bit temporary. And we've just got to be mindful of that."

Speaking about the tragedy in 2014, the actress revealed that she still carries a "sadness" with her for not realising the extent of her father's mental illness.

MORE: Dawn French Describes How Meeting Queen Mother Was ‘Most Terrifying Moment Of My Life’

"My mum, of course, would have known there was danger.

"He’d lived his whole life with it. But this was at a time when you didn’t say you had a mental illness if you were the head of a family. I still have sadness about it. Massive sadness. And I think it’s been a centre point of my life, what happened with my dad.”

In her recent memoirs, Dawn has also spoken about how one of the hardest thing about losing her father so youg is feeling that he's missing out on her life.

"I often think what a shame he missed out on this or that. Anyone who's lost a parent when they are young, I think has that feeling. You want to say: 'This is what I've done.'"

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist, currently working as Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on other women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. 

She is obsessive about everything homes and interiors—whether she's sniffing out the very best deal on a KitchenAid stand mixer or keeping up the latest Dyson release. And when she isn't editing or writing articles on interior trends or the latest home gadgets, she's passionate about books—you'll usually find her with her nose in a gripping thriller at the end of the working day.