Vivean Gray

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Vivean Gray
Vivean Gray.png
Jean Vivra Gray

(1924-07-20)20 July 1924
Died29 July 2016(2016-07-29) (aged 92)
Years active1952–1988
Parent(s)Allan & Doris Gray

Jean Vivra Gray (20 July 1924 – 29 July 2016), known professionally as Vivean Gray, was an English-born Australian television and film actress. She appeared in the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, but her best-known roles were in TV soap operas, including: Ida Jessop in The Sullivans, Edna Pearson in Prisoner and Nell Mangel in Neighbours. She retired in 1988, moving back to her native England to Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, where she lived a quiet and private life.

Early life[edit]

Gray was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England on 20 July 1924.[1] Gray was the daughter of Allan Gray and Doris Gray, who had been married the previous year in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. [2] She was the eldest of four children. The family later moved to Surrey where her father became a fish merchant at the Grimsby Docks.[dubious ][dubious ][citation needed]

She initially worked as a local reporter, photographer's assistant and as a sales assistant in a department store, and later became a nurse, and served with the Women's Land Army.[3] In 1952 she emigrated to Australia to pursue a career as an actress.[4]


In the 1970s, Gray appeared in a number of television dramas produced by Crawford Productions including Solo One, Bluey, Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police, and Carson's Law. She also appeared in film portraying mathematics teacher Miss Greta McCraw in Peter Weir's adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and in the television mini-series Anzacs and All the Rivers Run.

She worked with Weir again in 1977 in his film The Last Wave, playing the role of Aboriginal history expert Dr. Whitburn.[5][6]

The Sullivans[edit]

Gray played Ida Jessop in the soap opera The Sullivans for its 16-season run from 1976 to 1983, winning two Logie Awards for her portrayal of the gossipy neighbour.[4][7]


She appeared in serial Prisoner (known internationally as Prisoner: Cell Block H), as genteel poisoner Edna Pearson in 1984, in a seven-episode arc. After the initial showing of her episodes in Australia, a woman from South Australia named Emily Gertrude Phyllis Perry claimed the story was based on her real life experience of being accused of poisoning her husband Kenneth Warwick Henry Perry, by putting small doses of arsenic in his food and threatened to sue the producers, Grundy Television stating defamation.[8]

Perry became the central figure in allegations by the Crown that she attempted to poison her husband, during a trial lasting 72 days in 1981, her husband had also maintained that his wife was innocence during the trial, however Perry was initially sentenced to serve 15 years, but the following year the decision was overturned by the High Court, an the Government did not seek a retrial. Grundy's had stated in media reports the story line was actually based on a 1953 case and not the Perry case. She subsequently decided not to sue the company, despite the story bearing many similarities to her case, even down to the character's initials.[9]

As a result, any material that coincided with the woman's story was removed for subsequent episode screenings , including the full Australian DVD release of Prisoner. In 2010 a special DVD release of the full uncut "Edna" story was released, but only in the United Kingdom.[10]


In 1986, Gray was cast for three weeks in the role of "Nell" Mangel, better known as Mrs Mangel in the soap opera Neighbours. However, the character proved so popular that she remained on the show until 1988, appearing in 292 episodes.[4][11] The character was known for her constant feuding with Madge Bishop, played by Anne Charleston, and vying for the affections of Harold Bishop, played by Ian Smith. Gray left the role after receiving abuse from fans who disliked the character, with producers relocating Mangel to St. Albans, with a retired dentist, to live a happy retirement.[12] This was Gray's last acting role and she retired, returning to her native land and settling in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.[13]

Later life and recognition[edit]

Gray won two Logie Awards for her role as Ida Jessup in The Sullivans: in 1978 for Best Sustained Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and in 1981 for Best Support Actress in a Series.[7] In 1995, Gray was featured on an Australian postage stamp, depicting her role in Picnic at Hanging Rock.[14]

Gray died on 29 July 2016, nine days after her 92nd birthday.[4][15] She never married or had any children.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Gray, Jean V (September 1924). "Birth Index, 1916-2005". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  2. ^ Gray Allan A; Simpson, Doris M (June 1923). "England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Neighbours star Vivean Gray, aka Mrs Mangel, has died". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Harmon, Steph. "Neighbours' Mrs Mangel, actor Vivean Gray, dies aged 92". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Neighbours actress Vivean Gray dies aged 92". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  6. ^ Knox, David (29 July 2016). "Vale: Vivean Gray". TV Tonight. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Australian Television: 1978–1981 Logie Awards". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Subtitles » Prisoner Cell Block H: The Edna Pearson Story (1984) (Retail/Rental)". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  9. ^ Bourke, Terry (1990). Prisoner Cell Block H: Behind the Scenes. London: Angus and Robertson (UK).
  10. ^ "Prisoner: The Edna Pearson Story". Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Neighbours Mrs Mangal actress Vivean Gray has died". 29 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  12. ^ Ward, Rachel (29 July 2016). "Neighbours' Mrs Mangel, actress Vivean Gray, dies aged 92". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  13. ^ "What's happened to... Vivean Gray?". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing Ltd. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Kerrie (29 July 2016). "Best-known as Mrs Mangel, actor Vivean Gray has died". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Vivean Gray, actress who played Mrs Mangel in Neighbours – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.

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