Vale: Paulene Terry-Beitz

Character actor Paulene Terry-Beitz, best known for roles in Janus, Blue Heelers and Redball, has died following a battle with cancer.

Terry-Beitz (pictured, right) made her television debut in Janus (1994-1995) on ABC-TV, portraying Shirl Hennessey, the matriarch of the dangerous Hennessey clan.

Janus was loosely based on the true story of Melbourne’s Pettingill family and the Walsh Street police shootings. Her character was based on matriarch Kath Pettingill, the same character that inspired Jacki Weaver’s role in Animal Kingdom.

From 1996 to 1999 she went on to play the recurring role of Beth McKinley, the mother of Dash McKinley (Tasma Walton) in Blue Heelers, and between 1998 and 2001 she made a number of appearances in All Saints playing the recurring role of Ma O’Connell.

She also guest starred in episodes of GP, Driven Crazy and Good Guys Bad Guys, nd as well as roles in Redball, Mallboy and The Devil Game opposite Jacqueline McKenzie, Guy Pearce and Asher Keddie.

Terry-Beitz also adapted a number of children’s classic stories for the Next Stage Theatre in Adelaide as well as directing, performing and producing numerous productions and teaching children’s classes.

Writing about the Logie nominations for Best New Talent at the 1995 Logie Awards in “The Age” newspaper, TV Critic Ross Warneke said at the time: “Lisa McCune really deserves to win this three-way race. But where is the most impressive newcomer of the year, Paulene Terry-Beitz, whose debut performance as Shirl Hennessey in Janus was outstanding?” In her 50s at the time, she was not nominated.

After being diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of cancer in October last year, Terry-Beitz
passed away last week, the day after her birthday, at her home in Mossman, Queensland, which had just been battered by Cyclone Yasi.

She is survived by her partner of many years.


  1. David Williamson

    Hi my name is David. I worked with Pauline for a number of years before her film career started. I employed Pauline as a lecturer for TAFESA , she was great and a highly respected educator. Pauline had a powerful influence on her students. Only just found out that Pauline has passed away and thought I would let you know that I enjoyed working with her.

  2. Wow. I can’t believe she’s gone. She was so good as Shirl, I kept thinking I’d seen her before in many other roles. She made that role her own.

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