British-born actor Cornelia Frances, best known for her role in the Australian soap opera Home and Away, has died aged 77. Ms Frances, who played Morag Bellingham in the long-running series, revealed earlier this year she was fighting cancer.
Born in Liverpool, she became a stalwart of the small screen after moving to Australia. During a six-decade career, she also hosted the Australian version of The Weakest Link and acted in films and theatre.
Her death was announced by Home and Away broadcaster, the Seven Network, which described her as “a unique person.” It said: 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.”
Ray Meagher, who played Frances’ on screen brother Alf Stewart, said: “Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years. We had a moment of silence for her on set this morning and she’ll be sadly missed by both cast and crew.”
Lincoln Younes, who was in Home and Away from 2011 to 2014, tweeted: “Cornelia Frances. You were always ahead of the game. Will miss your witty banter on-set X.” Ms Frances trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama before emigrating to Australia in the 1960s. She made her first appearance as Morag, a judge, in the 1988 and would go on to have five stints in the series over the next three decades.
Her career also saw her take on roles in dramas including Sons and Daughters, The Young Doctors and Prisoner. In an interview earlier this year, the actor revealed she was battling bladder cancer, although she had still hoped to reprise her role as Morag for Home and Away’s 30th anniversary this year.
She told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that she had been diagnosed during a checkup at the Royal North Shore Hospital, which was used as the Albert Memorial Hospital in hospital soap The Young Doctors.
“I discovered I had bladder cancer,” she said. “This then spread to my hip bone which fractured, and then I almost died from loss of blood due to an ulcer in my throat. Despite all this, I am still here, as the old song goes.”