Dee Smart

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Dee Smart
Born (1966-07-09) 9 July 1966 (age 56)[1]
EducationVictorian College of the Arts
Ensemble Theatre
Years active1991–present
Notable workHome and Away
Water Rats
Welcome to Woop Woop
Height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Spouse(s)Steve Balbi (divorced)
Chris Hancock (1998–present)
Children3 Charlie, Zoe and Johnny Hancock

Dierdre Claire Smart (born 9 July 1966) is an Australian actress, model, singer, dancer and painter. After giving up on being a dancer, she rose to prominence portraying Lucinda Croft in the popular soap opera Home and Away from 1991 to 1992. After leaving the show she appeared in a handful of television guest spots, plays and films, including the 1997 comedy Welcome to Woop Woop, and was known for her appearances as Lady Luck on the variety programme The Footy Show before returning to regular television in the police procedural Water Rats, where she portrayed Detective Senior Constable Alex St. Clare from 1999 to 2001.[2] Her more recent roles include having appeared in the 2011 TV movie Panic at Rock Island and the television shows Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries in 2013 and Winter in 2015.

She is also known in Australia for being a permanent fixture in the country's tabloids and for her close friendship with billionaire businessman James Packer, with whom she and her husband Chris Hancock lived for a year, and who introduced her to Scientology, of which she became one of the country's most high-profile members.[3][4] Her eldest daughter, Charlie Hancock, is also an actress and played Verity Darling on the drama series Spirited.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Smart was born in Adelaide, South Australia, the seventh of nine children. She grew up on a large cattle farm outside the city with her parents, four brothers and four sisters. At the age of sixteen, she joined the Victorian College of the Arts, hoping to become a classical dancer, but while she didn't experience much success,[6] she found herself in demand as a model.[7] She then turned to acting, studying with Hayes Gordon at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre.[8][9]


After studying drama for three years, Smart secured her first ever professional acting role at age 25 when she signed a two-year contract to play Lucinda Croft, the tomboyish niece of old-fashioned school principal Donald Fisher, in the popular soap opera Home and Away.[10][11] Smart said that she was "a wreck" before filming her first scenes but soon learned to cope with the process and would attend acting classes each weekend.[12] As Lucinda, Smart would have many storylines involving her love interest, policeman Nick Parrish (played by Bruce Roberts), as well as her estranged brother David (played by Guy Pearce), and quickly became one of the show's most popular characters.[12]

Despite this early success however, Smart did not enjoy her work on the show and in December 1991, a mere eight months into her contract, she gave magazine TV Week a "scathing" interview about her role,[13] telling the publication that she felt as though she was completing a "prison sentence", adding that "It feels like I've been here for years".[11] Smart criticised the series' fast production, claiming there was no time to develop a character and said that it was "impossible to do a good job" because of the time limits, noting that she was surprised there was time to do any acting. Smart also spoke negatively about her character Lucinda because she "goes on and on and on - it is kind of abnormal for a character to last this long", ending the interview by saying she would not sign another long-term contract.[11]

The Seven Network, Home and Away's broadcast channel, as well as the show's producers were naturally annoyed by Smart's comments but couldn't release her from her contract since storylines were planned in advance and her character would have to remain in the series for "some time yet".[14] However, less than a year after giving the interview, Smart was publicly sacked via an announcement in TV Week and Lucinda was written out.[13] Unlike many former regulars, she has never returned to the show. Despite these negative experiences, Smart told Inside Soap that she had learned a "tremendous amount" from working on the series and said that she is like her character in that she is not traditional and does not care about doing "the 'done' thing".[12]

In the following years, Smart unsuccessfully attempted to launch a singing career,[15][16] posed nude in the magazine Black+White,[17][18] performed on stage in a handful of plays in Australia and Christmas pantomimes in the United Kingdom alongside her Home and Away love interest Bruce Roberts and did not return to the screen until 1994 when she was cast by student director Samantha Lang in her Graduate short film Audacious, which went on to screen at a number of film festivals across the world, winning some awards along the way. She continued her stage endeavors the next year, appearing in two plays, but also went on working in front of the camera, starring in the television film Blackwater Trail and the feature Back of Beyond, which reunited her with Home and Away co-star Rebekah Elmaloglou. That same year, Smart also started appearing as Lady Luck in the variety programme The Footy Show, offering viewers betting tips until 2002.[19] In 1996 she starred in the Australian-Canadian co-production Turning April alongside Justine Clarke, another Home and Away alum, and 1997 saw the release of director Stephan Elliott's Welcome to Woop Woop in which Smart plays a prominent role. The highly anticipated comedy, which premiered out-of-competition at the Cannes Film Festival, was a critical and commercial flop and remains Smart's last theatrical feature to date.

Between 1996 and 1998, Smart appeared in a number of guest spots on Australian TV shows such as Twisted Tales, G.P., Halifax f.p. (reuniting with her Home and Away brother Guy Pearce), Wildside and Murder Call, and starred as Columbia in a 25th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show which ran for two months,[20] but despite offers was reluctant to sign on for a regular television role due to her experience on Home and Away.[8][21] This changed in 1999 when she was cast as Detective Senior Constable Alex St. Clare in the police procedural Water Rats, a role which she actively pursued, enduring five auditions over three months.[22][23] Smart's casting proved controversial with tabloids relaying that she got the role thanks to her friendship with Nine Network boss James Packer, which was denied by the producers.[24] She left the show in July 2001, being six months pregnant with her first daughter Charlie,[25] and with other stars leaving and dwindling ratings, Water Rats was cancelled later that same month.[26]

Smart did not work much in the ten years following the birth of her daughter and the end of Water Rats, save for two episodes of the TV show The Alice in 2005 and 2006 and a month-long stint on the play Burnt Piano in early 2008. In 2011 she started a return to the small screen with a supporting role in the disaster television film Panic at Rock Island, followed by three appearances in the second season of the period drama Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries in 2013, a year in which she also starred in three short films, and most recently two episodes of Winter in 2015.

She was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2017[27] and 2020.

Personal life[edit]

Smart was first married to musician Steve Balbi but the relationship ended in divorce. She was later introduced to futures trader Chris Hancock whom she married in Las Vegas in June 1998 after four years of dating, in front of an Elvis Presley impersonator singing Viva Las Vegas and a congregation of ten people, including billionaire businessman James Packer, a childhood friend of Hancock's,[8] and her Welcome to Woop Woop co-star Rod Taylor, who walked her down the aisle.[22] The couple have three children, including eldest daughter Charlie, born on 28 October 2001,[6] son Johnny and daughter Zoe. Smart gave birth to their youngest child in early 2012 at age 45, an age which was deemed controversial in Australian media.[28]

Smart and Hancock lived together with their pet Jack Russel Terrier Jessie, James Packer and later his then wife Jodhi Meares in Packer's luxury three-level apartment in Bondi Beach[29] following Packer's split with girlfriend Kate Fischer. They all lived together for about a year, with Smart and Hancock helping to plan Packer and Meares' lavish wedding.[8][30] Packer and Meares' relationship deteriorated when Smart and Hancock, who have been referred to as "the glue in the marriage", moved out in 2000, eventually leading to a divorce.[31] The couple have remained good friends with both parties, as well as Packer's next wife Erica. Prior to living with Packer they owned a house in Rose Bay and afterwards they purchased a terraced house in Woollahra which they sold in 2003.[32]

Smart is also an avid knitter, sower and painter, and has been exhibited.[33][34] She was a devout Scientologist starting in April 2003,[35][36] after she and her husband were introduced to the religion by James Packer. Dee later abandoned the religion as she thought there were good morals to it, but also that the rules required of adherents were too strict.[37] Her eight siblings, who range from seven years younger to thirteen years older than her, are not involved in the entertainment industry and are scattered across Australia and London.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Audacious Stella Short film
Director Samantha Lang's Graduate Diploma Student Film at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School
Dendy Award for "Best Fiction Over 25'" at the 1995 Sydney Film Festival
Award for "Best Overall Film" at the 1996 Honolulu Underground Film Festival[38]
1995 Back of Beyond Charlie
1995 Love Until
1996 Turning April Kyra
1997 Welcome to Woop Woop Krystal Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival
2013 Kite Nadine Short film
2013 Faerie Natalie Short film
2013 Embrace Elaine Short film
Director George-Alexander Nagle's Graduate Diploma Student Film at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School[39]


Year Title Role Notes
1991–1992 Home and Away Lucinda Croft Series regular, 179 episodes
1995 Blackwater Trail Cathy Green Television film
1995–2002 The Footy Show Lady Luck Variety show, unknown number of appearances
1996 Twisted Tales Judy Raven Episode Cold Revenge
1996 G.P. Becky Rooker Episode Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?: Part 1
1997 Halifax f.p. Fiona Calwell Episode Déjà Vu
1998 Wildside Kate McCoy Episode 14
1998 Murder Call Mariena Soeteman Episode Dared to Death
1999–2001 Water Rats Detective Senior Constable Alex St. Clare Series regular, 64 episodes
2000 Tales of the South Seas Episode The Rabblerouser
2005–2006 The Alice Maxine 2 episodes
2011 Panic at Rock Island Denny Quinn Television film
2013 Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Rosie Sanderson 3 episodes
2015 Winter Penny Bartok 2 episodes


Dates Title Role Locale Ref.
5 Dec 1991 Superwoman in the Phantom Zone Choreographer Belvoir St Theatre [40]
22 Dec 1992 – 15 Jan 1993 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Cambridge Corn Exchange [41]
16 Jun 1993 – 25 Jun 1993 The Promise (My Poor Marat) Lika Marian Street Theatre [42]
17 Dec 1993 – 22 Jan 1994 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Hull New Theatre [43]
8 Apr 1994 – 7 May 1994 Desire Kate Crossroads Theatre [44]
1995 The Heartbreak Kid Ensemble Theatre [9]
19 Jul 1995 – 19 Aug 1995 Miranda Madeline The Wharf Theatre [45]
29 Jul 1998 – Oct 1998 The Rocky Horror Show Columbia The Star [46]
20 Mar 2008 – 26 Apr 2008 Burnt Piano Karen Idlewild Ensemble Theatre [47]


  1. ^ "Dee Smart". Le Forum de Water Rats.
  2. ^ "A quick word with Dee Smart". The New Zealand Herald. 25 March 2000. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  3. ^ Sharp, Annette (29 October 2014). "Kate Ceberano gets International Scientology Freedom Medal for bringing greater freedom to mankind". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney.
  4. ^ Byrne, Fiona (27 July 2008). "Jodhi Meares puts faith in Scientology". Herald Sun. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  5. ^ Casamento, Jo (12 September 2010). "Smart casting". The Sun-Herald.
  6. ^ a b "Biographical Details". Dee-lightful. October 2001.
  7. ^ Payne, Pamela (16 June 1993). "THREE TYROS WITH PROMISE". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. ^ a b c d e Cox, Kate (9 July 2000). "Smart pace". The Sun-Herald.
  9. ^ a b "Dee Smart as Alex St. Claire". Australian Television Information Archive.
  10. ^ "A quick word with Dee Smart". The New Zealand Herald. 25 March 2000. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b c "Let me out of here!". TV Week. Southdown Press (51). 21–27 December 1991.
  12. ^ a b c Fletcher, Mary (November 1992). "Dee quits Home and Away". Inside Soap. Attic Futura (UK) Ltd (2): 12.
  13. ^ a b "Twenty years of Home and Away Part one 1988–1997". TV Week: 6. 12–18 January 2008.
  14. ^ "Briefly…". TV Week. Southdown Press (2). 11–17 January 1992.
  15. ^ Dubecki, Larissa (8 August 2006). "Aiming higher than the Sky". The Age.
  16. ^ Gadd, Michael (28 July 2006). "Can she cut it on new set?". The Newcastle Herald.
  17. ^ Browne, Rachel (29 January 1995). "Bits and pieces Airwaves". The Sun-Herald.
  18. ^ Thomas, Brett (2 March 1997). "The Naked Bunch". The Sun-Herald.
  19. ^ Quinn, Rod (3 June 2001). "Brain". The Sun-Herald.
  20. ^ "Plum role for musical debutante". Illawarra Mercury. 24 July 1998.
  21. ^ Browne, Rachel (5 March 2000). "Moving with the smart set". The Sun-Herald.
  22. ^ a b Williams, Glen (1999). "Dee's Big Break". Woman's Day.
  23. ^ Everton, Denise (14 July 2000). "RATS SCRABBLE BACK FROM CAST EXODUS television". Illawarra Mercury.
  24. ^ Sharp, Annette (13 May 2001). "KRISTY Hinze is poised to launch her television career". The Sun-Herald.
  25. ^ "Water Rat pregnant". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. 30 March 2001.
  26. ^ Miller, Kylie (25 July 2001). "Nine casts off Water Rats as stars leave". The Age.
  27. ^ 2017 Finalist, Archibald Prize
  28. ^ Sharp, Annette (15 June 2012). "10 reasons not to have babies at 47". The Advertiser.
  29. ^ Barry, Paul (11 October 2009). Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?: The James Packer Story. Allen & Unwin.
  30. ^ Williams, Sue; Sutton, Candace (24 October 1999). "Love sealed with a $6.4bn kiss". The Sun-Herald.
  31. ^ Sharp, Annette (16 June 2002). "Why Jodhi called it quits". The Sun-Herald.
  32. ^ Chancellor, Jonathan (28 September 2003). "Packer's mates sell". The Sun-Herald.
  33. ^ Hampson, Jane (14 June 1997). "See it! Hear it! Do it!". The Sun-Herald.
  34. ^ Petley, William (9 January 2005). "One smart cookie". The Sun-Herald.
  35. ^ Sharp, Annette (13 April 2003). "Packer's newest recruits". The Sun-Herald.
  36. ^ Sharp, Annette (20 April 2003). "Smart still buoyant after Water Rats' sinking". The Sun-Herald.
  37. ^ Reines, Ros (23 March 2008). "Smart decision". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney.
  38. ^ "Student Film: Audacious". Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
  39. ^ "Student Film: Embrace". Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
  40. ^ "Superwoman in the Phantom Zone". AusStage.
  41. ^ "•Finding aid to holdings relating to Australian performers in UK pantomime, 1981+" (PDF) – via National Library of Australia.
  42. ^ "The Promise (My Poor Marat)". AusStage.
  43. ^ "Australian TV soap opera stars in UK pantomimes" – via National Library of Australia.
  44. ^ "Desire". AusStage.
  45. ^ Myers, Allen (2 August 1995). "Theatre that dares". Green Left Weekly.
  46. ^ "The Sweet Transvestite". Still Gorgeous.
  47. ^ Dunne, Stephen (31 March 2008). "Burnt Piano". The Sydney Morning Herald.

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