Friends & family farewell Lorrae Desmond

Friends & family today remembered veteran actress, from stage & screen, to tours in Vietnam -and love letters from Terry Thomas.

Friends and family today remembered veteran actress Lorrae Desmond, who died last month, aged 91.

Attending the memorial in Sydney were showbiz friends and colleagues, many donning the requested sequins, including Kamahl, Shane Withington, Shane Porteous and Craig Bennett.

There was footage of her stage and screen performances, plus tours singing for troops in Asia & the Middle East.

Amongst the memories were her success as the first woman to have a variety show on the BBC, and love letters from comedy legend Terry Thomas, to be placed in the coffin with her.

Actor and writer Josephine Mitchell remembered meeting her at A Country Practice at Seven’s Epping studios in the 1980s.

“She was gracious and welcoming to my teenage self on a little show called A Country Practice,” she said. “It was my first show, and her millionth show. I would find a reason to sit in the make-up room and watch her weave her magic because she always did her own make-up. No matter the fact that I was a newbie, she treated me with the respect that a seasoned performer would get. And from almost the very first moment, she was my support, and that never changed.

“The bubble of working the hours you do on a show like ACP means you make lasting and intense friendships. Having Lorrae as one of the older members of the cast showed us youngies how to behave. From how to answer questions from journalists, how to treat crew, how to dress, and even how to drink. Yes. Lorrae was the first person to get me drunk on a flight to Perth. With the sage advice, -there was a purpose behind her- of ‘You really should know how much you can drink so nobody can take advantage of you. ‘

“She proceeded to ply me the champagne for five hours. Of course, by the end of the flight, I was legless. And in those days, you had to walk down the stairs onto the tarmac. She was hanging on to one side of me and I was clinging to the railing. But we were giggling all the way.”

ACP creator and executive producer James Davern also sent a message.

He said, “Her death has hit me hard because she was one of the finest human beings it has been my privilege to know. Way back in 1979, I was in despair because we couldn’t find the right actress to play the role of Shirley Dean in A Country Practice. Then I heard that the singer Lorrae Desmond had a role in the soap, Arcade. I knew her work because I’d seen her music series on the BBC, and her series on the ABC. She was a fine singer and entertainer, but an actress?

“Out of curiosity, I watched an episode of Arcade. She blew me away, and continued to do so for the next 12 years. That was over 40 years ago, and she was in her prime then, beautiful, empathetic with a big heart and big, big talent. It was an honour to know her and to work with her. Her memory will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

You can view the memorial here.

This service requires a PIN number 2405 to access the page (NB: this has been authorised for publication).

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