Elizabeth McRae

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Elizabeth McRae
Born Elizabeth Helen Kersley
(1936-08-01) 1 August 1936 (age 78)
Wellington, New Zealand
Alma mater Victoria University College
Occupation Actor
Years active 1955–present
Known for Shortland Street
Height 1.64 m (5 ft 5 in)[1]

Elizabeth Helen McRae ONZM (née Kersley, born 1 August 1936) is a New Zealand actress, best known for her portrayal of Marjorie Brasch (née Neilson) in the television soap opera Shortland Street.


Born in Wellington in 1936,[2] McRae was educated at Wellington Girls' College from 1950 to 1954 and was head prefect in her final year.[3] She graduated from Victoria University College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958,[4] and married architect Don McRae in Wellington the following year.[5] The couple's children include actress, scriptwriter and director Katherine McRae.[6]

Her first theatrical role was in Nola Millar's 1955 production of Richard II at Wellington's Unity Theatre, which also featured Tim Eliott in his acting debut.[7]

McRae made her television debut on the NZBC in the children's mini-series The Games Affair in 1974,[8] and went on to appear in many other New Zealand television programmes including Mortimer's Patch,[9] Mercy Peak,[9] Terry and the Gunrunners,[10] and Go Girls.[10] However, it is for her recurring role as receptionist-turned-MP Marjorie Brasch on the long-running New Zealand television soap opera Shortland Street that she is most well-known.[8] McRae played the role from the soap's first episode in 1992, speaking the show's first line,[11] until 1996, with further appearances in 1998,[12] 2002,[13] and on the 20th anniversary episode in 2012.[14]

McRae's film acting credits include Never Say Die (1988), An Angel at My Table (1990), 30 Days of Night (2006) and, in 2010, Rest for the Wicked, in which she played the lead role of Lillian.[1]

McRae was named best actress in a radio drama production at the 1982 Mobil New Zealand Radio Awards,[9] and was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Elizabeth McRae: actor biography" (PDF). Johnson&Laird. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Births". Auckland Star. 1 August 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame: Elizabeth McRae". Wellington Girls' College. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "NZ university graduates: I–K". Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Further submission on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill". Mt Eden Planning Group. 9 July 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Behind the scenes: meet the directors". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Gaitanos, Sarah (2006). Nola Millar: a theatrical life. Wellington: Victoria University Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-86473-537-9. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Whittaker, Emma (9 August 2013). "Elizabeth only dotty on the job". Auckland City Harbour News. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Double honour for McRaes". Scoop News. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Elizabeth McRae". New Zealand On Screen. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Shortland Street – first episode". New Zealand On Screen. 1992. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Cleave, Louisa (26 July 1998). "Marj rules out a permanent return". Sunday News. p. 27. 
  13. ^ "Nick and Waverley say I do". Dominion Post. 1 October 2002. p. 3. 
  14. ^ Hurley, Bevan (29 April 2012). "Plot twists mark soap's birthday". Herald on Sunday. p. 22. 
  15. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2006". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 June 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 

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