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.