Vale: Wendy Hughes

Esteemed actress Wendy Hughes, known for her work on film, television and stage, has died, aged 61.

2014-03-08_1723Esteemed actress Wendy Hughes, known for her work on film, television and stage, has died, aged 61.

Fairfax reports she is understood to have died of cancer in Sydney earlier this morning.

Actor Bryan Brown announced the death to the audience of Sydney Theatre Company’s Travelling North on Saturday afternoon, inviting theatregoers to honour the late actress with a standing ovation.

Hughes had a formidable body of work including State Coroner, Return to Eden, Five Mile Creek, MDA, City Homicide, The Saddle Club, All Saints, Lucinda Brayford, Power Without Glory, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Rush, Matlock Police, Homicide, Number 96, and Hunter.

Her films included My Brilliant Career, Careful He Might Hear You -for which she won an AFI Award- Paradise Road, Warm Nights on a Slow Moving Train, An Indecent Obsession, Lonely Hearts, and Newsfront.

US credits included Star Trek: The Next Generation, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Amerika.

Her most recent credit on IMDb was Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in 2013.

On stage she performed in The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Pygmalion to name a few.

Born in Melbourne to parents who had migrated from England, she originally studied to become a ballerina. During her teens she turned her focus to acting, attending the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and, after honing her skills with the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Called “one of the important players in the development and productivity of Australian film,” she worked closely with prominent Australian artists such as cinematographer John Seale, writers David Williamson, Bob Ellis and director Paul Cox. She was considered one of the leading players in the 1970s “New Australian Film” renaissance.

In 2007 she told the ABC: “…in the 1970s I did a lot of television for the ABC. And we did some of the best drama. Father, Hitler’s turning Germany into a vast prison camp where all those who disagree with him are in danger of their lives. In ‘Power Without Glory‘ I played Mary West who was the rebellious daughter of John West, who ended up becoming a member of the Communist party. Quite groundbreaking, I think. It was fabulous television. It rated so well. In 1977, I did a film called ‘Newsfront‘. It was quite a distinctive film, highly acclaimed, brilliant script. And that’s where I met Chris Haywood, who’s the most brilliant actor and we have a daughter together”.

Asked if she had led a ‘charmed life’ she said, “I guess – yeah, I suppose it does look a bit charmed. There’s certainly been down times, but on the whole I think I’ve been really fortunate. A lot of it, I think, has to do, when I first started out in the ’70s it was, sort of, the renaissance of the Australian film industry, and a lot of films were being done, a lot of television, and there wasn’t that much competition.”

Hughes was married three times including actor Sean Scully.

Source: Fairfax, ABC, IMDb, Wikipedia

24 Responses

  1. @fairdinkum your comments made me smile, i’m so glad she really was in real life how i imagined her to be. It’s a shame her career blossomed a little too early to share the same success of other Aussie actresses overseas.

    @tvtalk that is truly embarrassing on their part, i hope they have corrected it & publicly apologized

    ABC have been showing some great classic Australian movies late night over the summer, i hope they can continue the run with some of Wendy’s work & maybe introduce her to a new generation of fans. It was actually tv that introduced me to many great Aussie movies including ‘Careful He Might Hear You’, the sort of thingi was a little too young to bother with on its cinema run but discovered on a late night or midday movie tv airing.

  2. Check our the online Fairfax obit about her.

    It credits Wendy with being in The Thorn Birds, and she never was.

    Then it runs a pic of Rachel Ward and identities her as Wendy.

    Such a shame when Fairfax has fired all its fact-checkers and slop like this is dished up.

  3. I met Wendy Hughes once about 10 years ago in a cafe in Surry Hills. I had a brief discussion with her about “Careful He Might Hear You” and told her how much I enjoyed the movie and her role in it, as the story had some similarity to events in my own life. A lovely chance meeting – I’m so glad that I went up to her and expressed my regard for her work. She was very gracious. My sympathy to her family and friends.

  4. As Producer/Director of 6 episodes of a Power without Glory I am indeed saddened and shocked to hear this news. Wendy was a wonderful actress,learned her lines, hit her spot and gave so much of herself to her characters. We dubbed her “the next Ava Gardner” because of her ravishing good looks and great talent. Off the set she was so much fun with a fabulous personality and oh! so exciting to be with. She will live long in the memory of those fortunate to have known and worked with her. Vale Wendy you were a Star!

  5. I was shocked too, when I heard this yesterday!
    What a wonderful actor she was!
    One of our finest!
    My sincere condolences to her family, friends & fans.
    A beautifully written tribute, David! Thank you!

  6. One of my earliest ‘crushes’ was on Wendy Hughes; a beautiful, talented and highly visible presence on the Australian showbusiness landscape. Part of the renaissance of the film industry, Wendy’s face and voice evokes an era. I am so saddened by this loss. Too young; so talented.

  7. Geeze…this one shook me…wayyy to young…I really enjoyed her body or work….
    Talented actor….lovely person…great Aussie…
    Thanks David…nicely written piece…

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