Jimmy Corkhill star Dean Sullivans life – forgotten job, TV fame and cancer

Jimmy Corkhill star Dean Sullivans life – forgotten job, TV fame and cancer

The acting world was left stunned when Brookside legend Dean Sullivan passed away at the age of 68.

Taking on the role of Jimmy Corkhill, Dean became the longest serving actor on the Channel 4 soap, starring in the show from February 1986 until the show was cancelled in November 2003.

Thanks to his role, he was recognised for his services to acting, being honoured with a British Soap Award for his portrayal of Jimmy for seventeen years. But outside of the Close, Dean's life has been filled with interest and experiences galore.

READ MORE: Brookside's Corkhill family now – health battle, career U-turn and quitting fame

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So, as the world continues to mourn the loss of a British acting legend, Daily Star reflects on Dean Sullivan's life.

Early life and a 'secret' job

Dean Sullivan was born on June 7, 1955 in Liverpool. Growing up in New Brighton, Dean kept himself to himself, keeping his head down to give himself the best shot for a career.

After his time in secondary school, he went to Lancaster University to obtain a degree, graduating with a Bachelor of Education. Once he got his diploma, he was able to put his education to work, landing a job as a primary school teacher for six years before he joined the Close.

However, whilst he was educating the little ones, he continued to follow his passion for acting. During his time as a teacher, he was a member of Liverpool-based Neptune Theatre Company, appearing in the Willy Russell stage play Breezeblock Park.

Soon, after taking on roles in Soaplights in Liverpool's Playhouse Theatre, Dean had been bitten by the acting bug. As a result, he ditched his job in the classroom and dedicated his life to acting, landing his role as Jimmy Corkhill on new Channel 4 soap Brookside.

TV fame

Sullivan joined the Brookside family in February 1986 and soon cemented himself as a staple character on the show. Playing the role of Billy Corkhill's brother Jimmy, he became a core part of the cast, with several storylines revolving around him.

Dean eventually became the longest-featured character on the soap, staying on until the show was cancelled in 2003. During his stint on the programme, he was recognised for his acting skills and was given a nod at the British Soap Awards in 2003, receiving an award for the Outstanding Achievement for his portrayal of Jimmy.

After the soap ended, Dean was keen to keep the show going – going as far as to express an interest in buying the housing estate built for the show and revive the programme. However, despite his intentions, the show's estate was sold to a different buyer.

Life after Brookside

Following the end of the soap, Dean made a career for himself in his native Liverpool. In 2008, Dean appeared in the Scouse sitcom Terry Across the Mersey.

But it was not just TV that Sullivan branched into, as he landed a daily show on Radio City. Basing himself in the iconic City Tower, Dean's show became a popular favourite amongst listeners, which first began in 2009.

And it was not just media that kept Dean busy, as he hit the ring in a wrestling smackdown that stunned fans. At the age of 59, Sullivan made surprise appearances during the wrestling matches to defend Liverpool's honour against those who were badmouthing the city.

However, as time went on, Dean continued to have a fondness for his previous life as Jimmy Corkhill. In an interview in August 2011, Dean admitted that he would be open to reprising his former character on other soap operas, though this never materialised.

Later life and death

After leaving his show, Dean led a quiet life, but was secretly battling a terrible illness. In 2019, Sullivan revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had been fighting the condition for the past year.

He later was able to beat the illness, announcing the news to his loyal fans, as they continued to wish him well. Dean would continue to keep his career alive, working in the acting industry around his hometown.

However, sadly cancer would rear its ugly head once again in August 2023. Dean Sullivan would go on to live out the rest of his life in Liverpool, passing away on Wednesday (November 29) at the age of 68.

A statement from his agent Alan Hamilton paid tribute to the actor and director: "To millions he was and very much still is remembered as ‘Jimmy’, to family and friends he was ‘Dino’. Dean’s family wants to thank Arrowe Park Hospital for their unwavering and consistent support."

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