Frances at the 2011 Logie Awards
Cornelia Frances Zulver
7 April 1941
|Died||28 May 2018 (aged 77)|
|Other names||Corney Frances (nickname)|
|Morag Bellingham on Home and Away|
Sister/Matron Grace Scott on The Young Doctors
Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters
The Weakest Link as host
|Spouse(s)||Michael Eastland (1969–?; divorced)|
Cornelia Frances Zulver, OAM (7 April 1941 – 28 May 2018), credited professionally as Cornelia Frances, was an English-Australian actress. After starting her career in British films, she became best known for her acting career in Australia after emigrating there in 1970, particularly her iconic television soap opera roles with portrayals of nasty characters. Frances was known for her role as Morag Bellingham on Home and Away since its inception in 1988, after leaving that series, she appeared on a semi-regular basis as the storyline permitted, rejoining briefly as a permanent cast member in 2001, before going back to an itinerant basis.
Frances was also known for playing nurse Sister Grace Scott on the Nine Network series The Young Doctors (1976–1978), and Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters on Network Seven (1982–1986). She appeared in the film version of regular series TV soap The Box. She also worked briefly on stage and in voice-over. In the early 2000s, she was the hostess of the Australian version of quiz show The Weakest Link.
Early life and career
Born in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, Frances was educated at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Her early work was in British-made feature films as an extra and bit-part player. This included bit parts in two films directed by her uncle Michael Powell: Peeping Tom (1960), and The Queen's Guards (1961).
Career in Australia
Frances' acting career flourished after she had emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. She worked at the Playhouse Theatre in Perth appearing in Henry IV Parts I and 2, (1967) directed by Edgar Metcalfe; and Mary Mary which toured regional Western Australia and played a season at the Playhouse. She appeared nightly on television as the host of Channel 9's Tom's TV Bingo; Tom's was a supermarket in Perth. After taking a lead role in the film adaptation of sex-comedy soap opera The Box in 1975, and the role of Mrs Quinn in The Lost Islands in 1976, she became known across Australia for her long-running role of the strict and acidic Sister Grace Scott in daily soap opera The Young Doctors. After leaving that series to move to Melbourne with her husband who had been transferred there, she worked as a television reporter on "light" stories for Peter Couchman's Melbourne, a current affairs program hosted by Peter Couchman.
In April 1980, Frances made a guest appearance as lawyer Carmel Saunders on Prisoner. Later she acted in guest-starring television roles, before taking another well-remembered role, that of Barbara Armstrong (later Hamilton) in Sons and Daughters, a role she played from 1982 until 1986.
On 7 June 1988, Frances made her first appearance on Home and Away as Morag Bellingham, a judge and sister of Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher), whom she always clashed with, as well as the sister of Celia Stewart (Fiona Spence) and half-sister of, (much to her dislike) of Colleen Smart (Lyn Collingwood), both of whom she always also shared comic banter with. Frances played the recurring role of Morag for twenty-nine years. She expressed a desire to play Morag full-time on the show, and admitted that she did not like the coming-and-going as it was "very unsettling."
From 1997 to 1998, Frances provided the voice of Tortoise on the Australian/Chinese children's series Magic Mountain. She also hosted the Australian version of quiz show The Weakest Link (2001–2002). In the early 2000s, Frances worked for a winery in the Hunter Valley when she could not get acting work. Her autobiography And What Have You Done Lately? was published in 2003.
In 2011, Frances joined the Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) as its first Ambassador in an effort to raise awareness about critically endangered orangutans. Frances travelled to the island of Borneo, Indonesia, on 16 October 2011 to see first-hand the effect of the widespread deforestation of orangutan habitat, and how orangutans are being rehabilitated. In June 2016, Frances made a sizable donation to the National Health Organisation in order to bring awareness to female reproductive health.
Frances had one son, named Lawrence.
In January 2018, she revealed that she was battling bladder cancer that had spread to her hip, but stated that she was hopeful of reprising her role of Morag in Home and Away for the show's 30th anniversary. However, she succumbed to the cancer, after it had metastasized to her spine, despite having undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and died on 28 May 2018 at the age of 77 at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, coincidentally where the show The Young Doctors was filmed. Paying tribute to Frances, the Seven Network, which airs Home and Away in Australia, said: "Cornelia Frances was a unique person. Her on-screen presence inspired a generation of actors. This gift was coupled with an ability to bring a sense of dignity and presence into each room she entered. Her energy and character will be missed." She was also given tributes from her numerous co-stars including Meagher and Judy Nunn. A private funeral was held later that week.
|1960||Peeping Tom||Girl in sports car leaving studio|
|1961||The Queen's Guards||Officer's girl friend|
|1975||The Box||Dr. S M Winter|
|1981||Outbreak of Hostilities|
|1988||The Man from Snowy River II||Mrs. Darcy|
|1970||Dynasty||Georgina Clausen||Season 1 (2 episodes)|
|1971–72||Catwalk||Cornelia Heyson||Season 1 (14 episodes)|
|1973||Boney||Stella Borredale||Season 2, Episode 3: "Boney and the Stranger"|
|1973||Ryan||Amelia||Season 1, Episode 16: "Nobody's Perfect"|
|1974||Matlock Police||Catherine Upton||Season 4: "Everybody Else Has Everything"|
|1974||Homicide||Veronica Coates||Season 11, Episode 5: "Just Good Friends"|
|1974||Division 4||Angela Ward||Season 6, Episode 12: "For My Next Trick"|
|1974||Silent Number||Ivy||Season 1, Episode 15: "Contingency Plan"|
|1974||Essington||Unknown Role||Television film|
|1975||Division 4||Sandra Fleming||Season 7, Episode 1: "A Man of Substance"|
|1975||Matlock Police||Barbara Anderson||Season 5: "United We Stand"|
|1975||Homicide||Julie Kurnow||Season 12: "Rampage"|
|1975||Two Way Mirror||Liz Hardy||Television film|
|1975||The Last Rites||Unknown||Television film|
|1975–76||Homicide||Unknown role(s)||Season 12/Season 13 (2 episodes)|
|1976||King's Men||Unknown role||Season 1, Episode 3: "The Butcher"|
|1976||The Lost Islands||Elizabeth Quinn||Season 1 (26 episodes)|
|1976||Murcheson Creek||Unknown role||Television film|
|1977||The Outsiders||Mrs. Foster||Season 1, Episode 11: "Opal Strike"|
|1977||All at Sea||Miss Swallow||Television film|
|1978||Tickled Pink||Joan Jefferson||Season 1, Episode 1: "Neutral Ground"|
|1978||Cop Shop||Anne Carter||1 episode|
|1979||Skyways||Susan Winters||"Track Down/Airborn"|
|1976–79||The Young Doctors||Sister Scott/Matron Scott||Series regular 3 years|
|1980||Prisoner||Carmel Saunders||Season 2 (4 episodes)|
|1980||A Wild Ass of a Man||Sibella Wolfenden||Television film|
|1981||Punishment||Cathy Wells||Unknown episode(s)|
|1981||Bellamy||Aretha||Season 1, Episode 18: "The Bank You Can Trust"|
|1981||Run Rebecca, Run||Member for Southdown||Television film|
|1980–82||Kingswood Country||Dr. Hemmingway||Season 1–3 (3 episodes)|
|1982||Runaway Island||Agatha McLeod||Television film|
|1984||Runaway Island||Agatha McLeod||Unknown episode(s)|
|1982–86||Sons and Daughters||Barbara Armstrong (later Hamilton)||Seasons 1–5 (522 episodes)|
|1987||Jackal and Hide||Madame Zentha||Television film|
|1987||Future Past||Mother||Television film|
|1989||Pirates Island||Captain Blackheart||Television film|
|1995||The Ferals||Teacher||Season 2, Episode 7: "School's Out"|
|1995||G.P.||Season 7, Episode 35: "So Like a Woman"|
|1997–98||Magic Mountain||Tortoise (voice)||Seasons 1–2 (52 episodes)|
|2003||Always Greener||Janet Frawley||Season 2 (2 episodes)|
|2003||Pizza||Welfare||Season 3, Episode 1: "Brand New Pizza"|
|2006–08||Milly, Molly||Aunt Maude (voice)||Seasons 1–2|
|1988–2017||Home and Away||Morag Bellingham||Season 1 (1988 - recurring) |
Season 2 (1989 - regular)
Season 6 (1993 - recurring)
Seasons 14–22 (2001–2009 - recurring)
Seasons 24–26 (2011–2013 - recurring)
Seasons 29–30 (2016–2017 - guest)
|1986||Agnes of God||Mother Miriam|
|1987||A Lie of the Mind||Lorraine||Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney|
|1990||How the Other Half Loves||Footbridge Theatre, Sydney|
|1992||The Heiress||Marian Street Theatre, Sydney|
|1998||Diving for Pearls||Marj||Ensemble Theatre, Sydney|
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- Karasin, Ekin (29 May 2018). "'The pain comes and goes': Cornelia Frances' poignant last words about her cancer battle in her final interview from the hospital where she filmed Young Doctors four decades earlier". MSN. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- Moran, Jonathon (29 May 2018). "Actor Cornelia Frances dead at 77". News.com.au. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "Home and Away actress Cornelia Frances dies aged 77 following cancer battle". Sky News. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- Jackson, Candice (5 June 2018). "'Mum is finally at peace': A private funeral is held for beloved actress Cornelia Frances after her death from cancer aged 77 as her son Lawrence Eastland calls her 'my best friend'". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
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