Lorrae Desmond

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Lorrae Desmond, MBE
Lorrae Desmond.jpg
Born Beryl Hunt
(1932-10-02) 2 October 1932 (age 82)
Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia
Other names Lorrae Gorshenin (married name)
Occupation Australian actress, singer, entertainer.
Years active 1956–1999
Spouse(s) Alex Gorshenin (1963-1976)
Parent(s) DR D.E Hunt
Awards Logie 1984 – Best Supporting Actress in a Series for: A Country Practice (1981)
Gold Logie 1962

Lorrae Desmond, MBE (2 October 1932)[1] (married name Lorrae Gorshenin, born as Beryl Hunt) is a Gold Logie-award winning Australian singer, entertainer, and character actress, with a career spanning over 50 years, in the vein of star Joy Nichols. She remains best known for her long running role as Shirley "Shirl" Gilroy (née Dean) in the television series A Country Practice, which she played from 1981 to 1992.


'Lorrae Desmond was born as Beryl Hunt on 2 October 1932, in Mittagong, New South Wales. Her father was Dr. D.E Hunt. She travelled to Britain in the 1950s, and at 16, as Lorrae started her career as a singing cigarette girl and became a celebrity there, she performed as a solo artist and with backing group The Rebels, she appearing in cabaret, pantomime, radio, and live recording, including several shows for the BBC, including Meet Lorrae and Swing with Lorrae.[2] She even featured in her own comedy series Trouble for Two in 1958, was in the cast of several Terry-Thomas TV specials, and competed to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957.[3]

In his book Bounder (2008), Graham McCann states that Desmond might possibly have married Terry-Thomas, who had been her constant companion for seven years. Instead, the actor overcame a 26-year age gap to marry Belinda Cunningham. Desmond refuted this in an ABC interview in April 2008, saying that she dated Thomas for 10 years, but they would never have married.[4] In 1962, she made history by being the first woman to win the Gold Logie, for her work on The Lorrae Desmond Show.[5] The Gold Logie award that year would be a dual honour, with Tommy Hanlon Jr also winning the coveted trophy.

Personal life[edit]

Desmond married Sydney surgeon Dr Alex Gorshenin in 1963.[6] They travelled to the US together, where he continued to study. They moved back to Sydney but the marriage did not last long.

The Australian Government invited her to tour Vietnam from 1967 to 1971, to entertain the troops.[1] Desmond was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1970 for services to entertainment and the welfare of the Australian Forces in Vietnam.[7][8]

Other roles[edit]

Other television appearances include Homicide, Number 96 in 1973 and Arcade (1980). She also had a guest appearance on Home and Away.[5]

Lorrae Desmond appeared as Shirley Gilroy in A Country Practice an original character from 1981 to 1992. In 1984 she won the Logie for Best Supporting Actress for this role. Sadly in one of the series iconic episodes in 1992, the long-running character Shirley was killed off in an offscreen plane crash, with actress Desmond stating she did not want a prolonged death storyline arc like Molly Jones (Anne Tenney). Desmond was a supporter of the Paralympic Games in Sydney 2000.

In a quote about the industry she said:

What I really wanted to do was write lyrics for songs. I did do a few weeks in Home And Away after ACP, but I’m a bit sick of performing—after you've been doing it for 50 years you're just going around in circles! The thing I liked most about being a performer was putting the act together, which is why I've come back to writing. It's still pleasant to be recognised as Shirley because people are always nice to me. And with those ACP repeats on Hallmark, it goes from generation to generation.[citation needed]


In 2001, she obtained the rights to write the lyrics for a musical play based on Bryce Courtney's novel Smoky Joe's Cafe, about the effects of the Vietnam War on a veteran. The play, entitled Honey, premiered in 2007 at the Riverside Theatre Parramatta.[9]

She was also a magazine columnist for "That's Life", where she wrote an article called Ask Lorrae, where readers would write in, asking for advice and information.

Desmond took part in an A Country Practice reunion special in 2006, as part of the "Television Turns 50" celebrations, and the series' 30th anniversary reunion in 2011.[10]

She toured Australia performing in High Society, and her own one-woman show.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sequin and chiffon entertainer's scarf : Lorrae Desmond, Australian War Memorial.
  2. ^ "ANOTHER JOY NICHOLS?.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860-1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 29 September 1954. p. 21. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  3. ^ A Song For Europe 1957, ASFE History Pages
  4. ^ Lorrae Desmond, Talking Heads, with Peter Thompson
  5. ^ a b "1962: Lorrae Desmond", TV Week
  6. ^ "LORRAE DESMOND'S WEDDING.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1932-1982) (1932-1982: National Library of Australia). 29 May 1963. p. 8. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Lorrae GORSHENIN MBE". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  8. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45118. p. 6401. 13 June 1970.
  9. ^ a b Lorrae Desmond - blonde goddess in the golden dress, Stage Whispers, July/August 2008.
  10. ^ Knox, David: TV reunions are hot property, Citysearch, March 2011.
  11. ^ http://www.moawards.com/?page_id=103, Mo Awards, 11 May 2010.

External links[edit]