Rowena Wallace

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Rowena Wallace
Born (1947-08-23) 23 August 1947 (age 66)
Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Occupation Television actor
Years active 1967–current
Spouse(s) George Assang (1973–74; divorced)

Rowena Wallace (born 23 August 1947) is an British-born Australian actress, most especially in the genre of soap opera. She is best known for her Gold Logie-winning role as Patricia "Pat The Rat" Hamilton/Morrell/Palmer in Sons and Daughters.

Early life and budding career[edit]

Rowena Wallace was born in Coventry, West Midlands, an only child. She moved to Australia with her parents when she was five. Initially she grew up in Cairns and later moved to Brisbane at the age of 12 years. There, she attended Kedron State High School and was taken by her mother to dancing lessons at, and also persuaded to join, the Twelfth Night Theatre under the artistic direction of Joan Whalley in Bowen Hills. Her father was a pilot for Ansett Airlines.

At age fifteen, having left school and attended a business college at the insistence of her parents, Wallace decided to become an actress. She joined an advertising agency while still performing in the theatre at night. Her first television role was in Brisbane as an entertainer on the variety show Theatre Royal (hosted by George Wallace, Jr., no relation). She also hosted the afternoon news and weather and a children's show. At the age of nineteen, Wallace was diagnosed with scoliosis (curvature of the spine). She has required painkillers almost continuously since then.

While Wallace was working in television in Brisbane, Barry Creyton persuaded the producers of a new series to fly her down to Sydney to audition for the lead role in their show; as a result Wallace won the role of Margie Harris in You Can't See 'Round Corners and moved to Sydney.[1]

After completing Corners, she went on to star as the juvenile lead in a hit comedy stage production with John McCallum and Googie Withers. The show, Relatively Speaking, played to packed audiences in Melbourne.[1]

On 12 February 1970, the film Squeeze a Flower had its world premiere in Sydney. Wallace starred in the movie as the female lead, opposite international film veteran, Walter Chiari. By 1972, she had found work intermittently. In 1973 she married George Assang (d. 1997), a Thursday Island-born jazz singer known professionally as Vic Sabrino.[2] The marriage lasted just over a year, and Wallace has had no long-term relationships since then.[citation needed]

In the late 1970s she appeared frequently in Australian television, with an on-going role in the soap opera Number 96 in 1975–1976, followed by a regular role in the police drama Cop Shop, playing policeman's wife Pamela Taylor.[1] After leaving that series she played a mentally unbalanced remand prisoner named Anne Griffin in Prisoner for several weeks in late 1980. Also in mini series "The Mesmerist" character & year unknown - 1980/81? [1]

Sons and Daughters – television highlight[edit]

Rowena Wallace's most famous role was in the soap opera Sons and Daughters, in which she played Patricia Dunne/Hamilton/Morrell/Palmer; starting in 1981.[1] Nicknamed Pat the Rat, the character became an immensely popular bitch figure in the series; its most famous character.

Gold Logie and Logies[edit]

In 1984 Wallace won a Gold Logie for the portrayal[1] during an era when Gold Logies were usually won by major television personalities and hosts but not actors. She was the first woman to win the award since it was opened up to Most Popular Australian Personality.[clarification needed]

Wallace also received Silver Logies for:

  • Most Popular Lead Actress (1983);
  • Most Popular Actress (1984);
  • Best Actress in a Series (1984); and
  • Best Lead Actress in a Series (1985).

Wallace left Sons and Daughters after three years, with her final scenes going to air in early 1985 just after her Gold Logie win.[1] Wallace claimed in a reunion documentary that she left due to exhaustion of playing such an intense character. She also claimed she regretted walking away from the role as she did not get the acting offers she had anticapated after. The popularity of her character led to it being recast, with Belinda Giblin assuming the role of a returning Patricia after extensive cosmetic surgery had altered her facial features. Late in the show's run, with ratings in decline, Wallace was returned to the series in an attempt to boost the show's popularity. With Giblin remaining in the show, Wallace now played a new character, that of Patricia's long-lost identical twin sister Pamela. Her return lasted ten weeks but did little to halt the show's dwindling ratings, and the show was cancelled shortly afterwards.

Later career[edit]

Between July 1999 and November 2003, Wallace was collecting a disability support pension, despite being actively employed by television series such as Water Rats, Beauty and the Beast, and Good Morning Australia.[3] In October 2005, she was charged with social security fraud, and given a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment.[3]

Between years 2000 and 2003 Wallace did few guest stints in the weeknight soap opera Home and Away(Coincidentally Home and away replace Sons and Daughters) as June Reynolds.[4]

In 2007 Wallace joined the cast of Neighbours for several months.[5] She played Mary Casey, an unstable woman[5] who ended up in prison for the false imprisonment of Pepper Steiger. Mary's cellmate turned out to be Sky Mangel.

In August 2010, Wallace was the subject of a Today Tonight special feature on the Seven Network, where she was reportedly nearly broke and on the verge of becoming homeless. The following week, an outpouring of offers to take her in came from Australians around the country.

In March 2011, she was the subject of more media coverage, this time because the unit she occupies at subsidised rent in Wonthaggi, Victoria is due for demolition in August 2011 and she fears she will have nowhere to live. The rents in Wonthaggi have doubled or even tripled due to the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant being constructed nearby, but her pension would not even cover her rent.[6]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Rowena Wallace Career Page". Retrieved 7 Feb 2010. 
  2. ^ "Classic Australian Television Interview Rowena Wallace". TV Eye No 3. October 1994. 
  3. ^ a b Kate McClymont (12 October 2005). "Actor spared jail for benefits fraud". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  4. ^ "Best Character Awards : 68 to 40...". p. 66. Retrieved 7 Feb 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Marcus Casey (11 April 2007). "Pat the Rat is back". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 Feb 2010. 
  6. ^ Herald Sun, 21 March 2011, Gold Logie winner Rowena Wallace needs a home

External links[edit]