Anna Wing, who played sharp-tongued EastEnders matriarch Lou Beale, has died aged 98, her agent has said.
The star, who died on Sunday, appeared in the BBC One soap for three years from its start in 1985.
She formed a formidable on-screen partnership with fellow actress Gretchen Franklin who played Ethel Skinner.
She received the MBE in 2009 in recognition of a career that spanned more than six decades of television, film, radio and theatre. Speaking at the time, she said: "I wanted to be an actress when I was a little girl and everybody said no, but I did it. I stuck it out and I've done it for 70 years and I'm still working.''
She appeared in The Bill aged 92 playing a feisty pensioner caught up in a drug deal.
Adam Woodyatt, who plays her grandson, Ian Beale, in EastEnders described Anna as "a wonderful lady".
He said: "I worked with Anna on Witches And The Grinnygog before she became my gran in EastEnders. I remember one episode in particular - number 16 - we had a seven-page scene for the cliff-hanger, Ian pouring his heart out to his gran. It was the first time I had to cry on screen and I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do it.
"Anna was so helpful, happy to rehearse it over and over again and put me completely at ease. Sure enough the tears flowed from nowhere and it was the first time Julia's Theme was used at the end of an episode. I have so many fond memories of her, my thoughts are with her family and friends."
June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton, said it was a "pleasure" to work with Anna. She said: "She was a very generous woman in many ways and an excellent actress who made a script her own, lifting the character off the page and made it quite different from what you'd have expected."
A spokeswoman for the show said: "We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Wing has passed away. From the very first episode of EastEnders, Anna created one of the most iconic matriarchs in television history.
"The character of Lou Beale is still so entrenched in EastEnders history and, without Anna, the Beale family would never have been the focal point that it is today."