Lorrae Desmond

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lorrae Desmond, MBE
Lorrae Desmond.jpg
Desmond in 2012
Born Beryl Hunt
(1932-10-02) 2 October 1932 (age 84)[1]
Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia
Other names Beryl Gorshenin (married name)
Occupation actress
Years active 1955–1999
Spouse(s) Alex Gorshenin (1963–1976)
Parent(s) Alice and Des Hunt
Awards Medal of the British Empire Order of the British Empire ribbon.png
Logie 1984 – Best Supporting Actress in a Series for: A Country Practice (1981)
Gold Logie 1962

Lorrae Desmond, MBE (2 October 1932), is an Australian retired Gold Logie-award-winning singer, entertainer, character actress and theatre lyricist, in the vein of Joy Nichols, with a career spanning over 60 years, both locally and internationally. She remains best known to early television audiences as presenter of the self-titled musical variety program The Lorrae Desmond Show from 1960 until 1964, her live singing performance's as a forces sweetheart and for her long-running role as Shirley Gilroy (née Dean), an original character from 1981 in the television series A Country Practice, which she played to 1992. Desmond, who was the first female recipient of the Gold Logie, after some years out of the limelight and now 84, appeared as a presenter at the Logie Awards of 2017, opposite her mother's cousin Chinese Australian comedian and radio and television host Sam Pang

Early life and career in Britain[edit]

Lorrae Desmond was born as Beryl Hunt on 2 October 1932, in Mittagong, New South Wales. to Alice and Des 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 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 (which was in fact Silver, as females at the time received the Silver Statuette, and males received the Gold Statuette) for her work on her variety show 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.


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

MBE and public service[edit]

The Australian Government invited her to tour Vietnam from 1967 to 1971, to entertain the troops, she was widely courted as being the Australian Forces Sweetheart, amongst others including Little Pattie[7] 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.[8][9] in 2000, Desmond was supporter of the Paralympic Games

Television roles[edit]

Other television appearances include Homicide, Number 96 in 1973 and Arcade (1980). She also had a guest appearance on Home and Away as Isobel Dupre, the mother of Donald Fisher played by Norman Coburn.[5]

A Country Practice: Shirley Gilroy[edit]

Lorrae Desmond appeared as Shirley Gilroy in A Country Practice, an original character, from 1981 to 1992, opposite Brian Wenzel who played her husband Frank Gilroy. In 1984 she won the Logie for Best Supporting Actress for this role. In one of the series' iconic episodes in 1992, the long-running character Shirley was killed off in an off-screen plane crash, with actress Desmond stating she did not want a prolonged death storyline arc like Molly Jones (Anne Tenney).


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 Courtenay'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.[10]

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.

ACP reunions[edit]

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.[11]

One women show[edit]

She toured Australia performing in High Society, and her own one-woman show.[10]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Lorrae Desmond: Biography". austlit.edu.au. Retrieved 21 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "ANOTHER JOY NICHOLS?.". The Mercury. 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. National Library of Australia. 29 May 1963. p. 8. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Sequin and chiffon entertainer's scarf : Lorrae Desmond, Australian War Memorial.
  8. ^ a b "Lorrae GORSHENIN MBE". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  9. ^ a b "No. 45118". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1970. p. 6401. 
  10. ^ a b Lorrae Desmond – blonde goddess in the golden dress, Stage Whispers, July/August 2008.
  11. ^ Knox, David: TV reunions are hot property, Citysearch, March 2011.
  12. ^ http://www.moawards.com/?page_id=103, Mo Awards, 11 May 2010.

External links[edit]