as Maggie Cameron in Number 96
Auckland , New Zealand
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Bettina Welch (1922–1993) was a New Zealand-born Australian-based theatre and television actor who became best known for her role as scheming businesswoman Maggie Cameron in the 1970s television soap opera Number 96.
Welch was born in 1922 in New Zealand. Her acting career began in her teenage years when she arrived in Sydney from New Zealand with her parents on holiday. In Sydney she won a competition that led to her being trained by J. C. Williamson's theatre company, and she began acting on Australian radio. Her training with J. C. Williamson led to a succession of theatre roles with the company.
During Robert Morley's Australian theatre tour in 1949 she played his young mistress in Edward My Son. Her other stage roles include Australian productions of Harvey with Joe E. Brown, Simon and Laura and Deep Blue Sea with Googie Withers and John McCallum, the lead role opposite Emrys Jones in Double Image, and a featured role with Sir Robert Helpmann in Nude with Violin. Welch then appeared as the enchantress Morgan le Fey in J. C. Williamson's production of Camelot in the early 1960s, a role she played for two and a half years. She subsequently took one of the lead roles in four-handed comedy Any Wednesday, appeared in productions of There's A Girl in My Soup, The Bandwagon, played the nurse in Loot, appeared as the daughter Julie in A Delicate Balance, and took the lead role in a production of Wait Until Dark, a role for which she was critically acclaimed. Welch also played in Melbourne and Sydney in Hal Porter's Australian play Eden House.
Through the 1960s she also had guest roles in Australian television drama series. In the late 1960s she appeared in the Crawford Productions adventure series Hunter (1967), and played various guest roles in the top-rated Crawford Productions police dramas Homicide and Division 4.
In 1971 Welch appeared in an episode of popular situation comedy series The Group. After that show's writer David Sale, who had earlier been impressed by the performance she gave in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation-Artransa Films science fiction children's series Phoenix 5 (1970), saw her in the relatively minor role in The Group, he promised to write something especially for her next time. When he created Number 96 he kept his word, creating the role of businesswoman Maggie Cameron for her.
Number 96 and later roles
Appearing in Number 96 from its inception in March 1972, Welch's character Maggie emerged as a popular bitch-figure in the top-rated serial. In 1973 she left Number 96 temporarily to again act on stage opposite Robert Morley, this time in How the Other Half Loves. She returned to the series after that, and also reprised the role in the feature film version of Number 96 released in 1974.
Welch was spectacularly written out of Number 96 in late 1975 when, in the aftermath of a deadly explosion that rocked the building the series was set in, it was revealed that the embittered Maggie had set the bomb. Welch returned for a guest appearance in 1976 when Maggie's trial was shown, and she appeared in the show's final episode in 1977 where it was explained that Maggie had been released from prison.
After Number 96 Welch continued to make guest appearances in Australian television series, including roles in Glenview High (1977), The Outsiders (1977), Young Ramsay (1978), and in legal drama Case for the Defence (1978). Through the 1980s Welch played several small featured roles in several Australian television movies and feature films, including Undercover (1983), and guest starred in two episodes of A Country Practice. She died in 1993 in Australia.
- Atterton, Margot. (Ed.) The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Australian Showbiz, Sunshine Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86777-057-0 p 230