THEY say you are only separated by six degrees from anyone in the world.

So it might not be a surprise to learn Colchester has a strong claim to one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses.

With the release of her latest film, and fans awaiting the release of the latest in the franchise which made her name, A-lister Sigourney Weaver has been taking a look back at her own family history.

And many people might be surprised to learn Essex has a strong claim to the star of Avatar, Working Girl and the Alien movies.

She is currently starring in The Monster Within, which is about the relationship a young boy has with his own mother and how he copes with major events in his life.

Sigourney’s own mother, Elizabeth Inglis, was born in Colchester and lived there until she moved to Hollywood in the 1930s to pursue a career in acting herself.

Sigourney has spoken of how her mother was one of the last remaining cast members of Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated film adaptation of the 39 Steps, for which she was not actually credited - but she never talked about it.

When she was born in north Essex in 1913 Elizabeth was named Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins, the daughter of Margaret and Alan Hawkins.

She later adopted the stage name Inglis and then Elizabeth Earl.

Sigourney has described her mother as “kind of a renegade.”

“She left her family and moved to the US because they didn’t want her to be an actress, and she always made her own way in the world.”

Known more as a stage actress, Elizabeth, who died nine years ago aged 94, studied at RADA alongside Gone with the Wind and a Streetcar named Desire star Vivien Leigh.

She retired from screen and stage work when she married US radio executive Sylvester Weaver and their children were born but not before she had appeared opposite Bette Davis in the Letter.

She was also involved in Aliens - her photograph was used for Amanda Ripley, the grown up daughter of Sigourney’s character, but the scene was deleted.

More stars from our area...

  •  OSCAR winning actress Helen Mirren, above, was brought up in Southend and went to St Bernard’s School, Westcliff
  • Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary, Michelle Dockery was born in Rush Green, Romford and went to school in Chadwell Heath
  • True Blood actor Stephen Moyer was born in Brentwood and was a pupil at St Martin’s School in Hutton.
  • Actress Charlotte Rampling, who has appeared in more than 100 films, including Georgy Girl, Farewell My Lovely and the current blockbuster Assassins Creed was born in the village of Sturmer in north Essex. 
  • There’s Something About Mary star Lee Evans was brought up in Billericay and went to school in the town.
  • John Leyton who starred in many classic films including as tunnel king William Dickes in The Great Escape was born in Frinton-on-Sea in 1936.