Cornelia Frances Tribute

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Following the sad passing of Australian screen icon Cornelia Frances two weeks ago, we take a look back at her extraordinary life and career, and hear tributes from some of her friends and former Home and Away co-workers.


Biography

Cornelia Frances Zulver was born on 7th April 1941 in Liverpool, England to Louis and Margaret Zulver.

Her father Louis was a marine engineer with Dutch heritage, the son of Cornelius & Willemine Zulver, and at the time was spending most of his time serving in the Navy.

Corney’s mother, Peg, was the daughter of Irish immigrants Jerome Joseph Reidy, a physician and mayor of the London borough of Stepney, and his wife Frances.

When Corney was only a few weeks old, the family home was largely destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the Liverpool Blitz, and the Zulvers moved south to Purley in Surrey. Boarding at a Roman Catholic priory school in Dorking from the age of four, Corney took a keen interest in music and drama—and by the age of twelve had the desire to become an actress. This was met with disapproval by the nuns of the convent, who told her that actresses “led wicked lives”.

When Corney was six, her parents’ marriage broke down. Peg and Corney first lodged with Peg’s brother, before they moved in with Corney’s grandfather Cornelius, who’d made his fortune designing oil tankers in his role as marine superintendent for Royal Dutch Shell.

(L) Corney at around five/six years old. (R) An early undated headshot
©Cornelia Frances

Peg later remarried to Colonel Roy Leyland, and the family eventually settled in the Hampshire town of Yateley, near to the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. The union saw Corney gain two step-sisters, Suzanne and Annette, and in 1957, Corney welcomed a beloved half-sister Francesca.

Corney (far right) and fellow students practicing microphone technique at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1959.
© Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board

At the age of sixteen, Corney moved to London to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, lodging for the duration with her grandmother Frances in Marylebone’s Harley Street.

Following the completion of her diploma two years later, Corney asked her uncle, film director Michael Powell, for some advice on getting an agent. Providing an introductory letter, Powell forwarded Corney to a casting agency he knew, and a few weeks later, Corney landed her first film role as an extra in the 1960 comedy Dentist in the Chair.

In the same year, Corney would have a small speaking part in one of Powell’s own films, the thriller Peeping Tom.

Corney’s appearance in uncle Michael Powell’s 1960 film Peeping Tom.
©Michael Powell (Theatres) Ltd.

In her early twenties, Corney reconnected with her father Louis, who had remarried and was running a pub in a small village just south of Stratford-upon-Avon. There she met her step-mother Molly and two more half-siblings, Philippa and Andrew.

Over the next few years, Corney had small roles in a number of films including The Queen’s Guards (another Powell film), The Hellfire Club, and No My Darling Daughter—gaining valuable knowledge from her time on set.

It was during production of The Trials of Oscar Wilde where Corney would meet her first love, the writer and director Ken Hughes—perhaps best known for his later film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang—with whom she embarked on an 18 month relationship. Corney also performed around the country in theatre productions, including seasons in Bath and at the renowned Watermill Theatre in Berkshire.

Through these years Corney attempted to keep a steady income by working odd jobs in department stores and then as a receptionist, firstly to a Kensington photographer, and then to the doctors that were renting rooms in the Harley Street abodes once owned by her late grandmother. Eventually, looking for something a bit more glamourous, Corney was able to acquire a job as a house model for the fashion house Vendome Prêt à Porter, where she remained for a couple of years.

In 1964, Corney met Michael Eastland at the wedding of a mutual friend in Luton, and the pair began dating. Mike soon revealed that he had a desire to emigrate to Australia under the £10 passage scheme, and when he departed in March 1965, Corney started making plans to join him—finally making the move in September of that year. After initially spending a few months together in Sydney, the couple made the cross-country move to Perth in early 1966.

Corney continued with modelling work in Perth until she made her television debut on Lloyd Lawson’s ‘woman’s hour’ show Roundabout. Airing on Nine’s regional network STW-9, Corney presented a popular shopping and fashion segment, as well as also providing continuity announcements for the channel.

She was later asked to front the six o’clock news bulletin—the first time a woman would do so on the Nine Network. After a successful first programme however, she forgot to lower the level on her microphone and was caught jokingly swearing about her nerves—transmitting it live over the commercial break. Despite positive public feedback, she was not asked to return to that particular role.

When the season of Roundabout ended, Corney embarked on a seven month tour of Western Australia with the Perth Playhouse, performing four different plays.

(L) An undated headshot of Corney. (R) Corney and Mike’s wedding in 1969
©Cornelia Frances

After the required minimum of a two-year stay in Australia under the ‘£10 Pom’ scheme, Corney and Mike returned to England in 1967 by way of a six week cruise. Sadly, only two days before their ship was to dock in Southampton, Corney’s father Louis passed away.

Corney continued in various theatre productions in southern England, and in 1968, she appeared in revered director Herbert Ross’ adaptation of Goodbye Mr Chips, starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clarke.

Cast in a small role described by Mr Ross as “the dyke”, Corney recounted in her autobiography of her fondness for the experience. “That small cameo appearance, albeit with only a few sentences to utter, was one of my most enjoyable times on a film set. Herbert Ross was so supportive, helpful and wonderful to work with. I was extremely complimented that every day he’d come up and make some wonderful remark, and constantly said ‘I wish I could give you more to say, Corney. I really love your character’”. The film was released the following year.

Corney’s role as “the dyke”, with stars Peter O’Toole and Petula Clarke, in Herbert Ross’ 1969 film adaptation of Goodbye Mr Chips
©1969 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Corney and Mike were married in April 1969 at the Roman Catholic chapel at Sandhurst’s Military College, and after nearly three years of residing back in the UK, the couple emigrated to Australia permanently in August 1970.

Only three weeks after Corney’s arrival in Sydney, she made her first break into Australian television drama, as fashion model Georgina Clausen in two episodes of the ABC series Dynasty, created by Tony Morphett from his novel of the same name. The character would later reappear in the spin-off series Catwalk (albeit renamed Cornelia Heyson), which aired on the Seven Network from 1971-1972.

On 11th June 1971, only two weeks before filming commenced on Catwalk, Corney & Mike welcomed their son Lawrence.

Corney would go on to have guest roles in a host of other series, including Crawford Productions’ Division 4 and Matlock Police, before appearing in the feature film version of Crawford soap The Box in 1975. It was here that she would meet and form a long friendship with co-star Judy Nunn.

In 1976, Corney was cast as Sister Grace Scott—a part written specially for her—in Grundy’s new soap The Young Doctors, which would go on to make Corney a household name with a whole host of fans.

As Sister Scott in The Young Doctors
©Grundy Television Pty Ltd

It was very flattering to me that they could see under Sister Scott’s stern stare and find a woman of some worth” Corney wrote in her autobiography. “So much had happened to poor Grace; raped (twice), left at the altar, a broken leg from a fall down the lift shaft and thought dead, and much much more. She was always controversial, but always fair, always sharp, but with a well-hidden heart of gold. What a gift of a part to be given, and one I hated leaving — but it was necessary when Mike was sent to Melbourne for twelve months.

The move to Melbourne saw Corney make a somewhat unexpected return to presenting, when she was asked to become a roving reporter on Peter Couchman’s Melbourne. This also led to a guest role on Prisoner, filmed in the same studios, as barrister Carmel Saunders.

Returning to their home in Sydney’s Bondi Junction, Corney took a foray into children’s television with a role in the series Lost Islands. After a disturbing incident involving a home intruder, the family moved to a quieter spot in Neutral Bay on Sydney’s Lower North Shore. Corney would remain in the area for the rest of her life.

In 1982, another strong-willed character came around for Corney, when she was offered the role of Barbara Hamilton in Seven’s new soap Sons and Daughters, co-starring with her good friend Rowena Wallace. Though initially a guest role, the producer of the time asked if Corney would like to join the regular cast.

Sons and Daughters
©Grundy Television Pty Ltd

Corney stayed on the show for over three years, and was nominated for two Logie awards, before a change in producer saw Corney’s character written out—much to the shock of many cast and crew. “Some small consolation was that I received so many phone calls from the directors and writers, expressing both bewilderment and concern” she said in her autobiography. “The head writer even said ‘We had some wonderful future storylines for Barbara, but unfortunately “Mrs Producer” just wants you out, for whatever reason’. I was perfectly right, she really didn’t like me, or the way I played Babs. Them’s the breaks, as they say.” The show was axed the following year.

It was during Corney’s stint on Sons and Daughters that her mother Peg and stepfather Roy came to Australia, on what would turn out to be their final visit. Roy sadly passed away in January 1984, only a week after their return to the UK.

Corney was excited to audition in 1987 for the role of an Irish landlady in The Man from Snowy River II, being able to draw inspiration from her grandmother Frances for the accent. The audition was successful, and Corney spent two weeks in the foothills of the Victorian Alps working on the feature film, though unfortunately a lot of the scenes featuring a subplot between her character and Brian Dennehy’s character were edited out for time.

Corney as Mrs Darcy in the 1988 film The Man from Snowy River II
©The Walt Disney Company / The Burrowes Film Group

In 1988, the part came that would become Cornelia Frances’ defining role for the best part of three decades, winning generations of fans worldwide, when she was asked to play the formidable Morag Bellingham in Home and Away.

After an initial stint which saw Morag arrive in town for Roo’s failed wedding to Frank Morgan, she was later asked by the producer to return to the show as a regular, and did so for nine months in 1989. This tenure coincided with the shocking revelation that Morag was the birth-mother of Bobby Simpson, following an affair with Donald Fisher twenty years previously, and Morag managed to pretty much alienate the entire town against her in those short few months. Corney described Morag as “the most enjoyable character I had played.

Corney’s first scene as Morag Bellingham
©Seven Network

In late 1990, Corney joined many fellow Home and Away cast members in heading back to the UK to appear in her first panto, playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Southend-on-Sea. Originally due to arrive in November, Corney flew over several weeks early after hearing that her mother was gravely ill. She was able to spend two days with Peg before she passed away on 1st October.

After growing apart for some time, Corney and Mike decided to separate shortly after Corney’s 50th birthday in 1991, however they remained good friends and continued to live together for some time.

Corney returned to the UK again later that year to tour with Donald McDonald’s play Caravan, co-starring fellow Aussies Noel Hodda and Alan Dale. This was followed by another stint in panto, this time playing Queen Rat in Dick Whittington in Rhyll, North Wales, and she recounted in her book of the uniqueness of panto. “Out of everything I’ve ever done, I have never enjoyed anything as much as those two pantomimes. It’s the magic given to children, the excitement, and most of all, the anticipation they get before the story is unfolded. A truly rewarding experience.

Corney returned to Home and Away for an eight week stint in 1993, which saw Morag turn up in Summer Bay following the death of Bobby. Morag was then exiled from the town after it was learnt by Ailsa that she was trying to manipulate Summer Bay to gain custody of her step-grandson, Sam Marshall.

Morag’s 1993 return to Home and Away
©Seven Network

Following this, Corney embarked on a three month tour over the entirety of Australia for a production of Nell Dunn’s play Steaming, co-starring Betty Bobbitt and Belinda Giblin, and directed by Gary Down (who had previously portrayed Morag’s blind assistant Nigel Taggart during her 1989 stint in Home and Away). Although it wasn’t the most enjoyable of experiences, with Corney feeling that she hadn’t been quite right for the role, she was then convinced to step in at the last minute for the New Zealand tour of the production when another actress pulled out.

Acting work slowed up during the late 1990s, with the exception of the odd theatre role, and Corney took on a job in the customer relations department of wine merchants Cellarmasters, which to this day is often joked as being one of the largest employers of out-of-work actors in Sydney. Despite holding down a full-time job, Corney was still able to take on some voiceover work in the evenings, portraying Tortoise in the ABC children’s show Magic Mountain which aired from 1997-1998.

In November 2000, Corney was headhunted by Seven Network’s director of programming, Tim Worner, to audition as quizmaster for the Australian version of UK gameshow The Weakest Link. Two months later, after recording a pilot show, Corney learnt that she was to become the new host, with one Australian magazine stating “The nastiest woman on TV is coming out of retirement!

With Corney suddenly back in the limelight as another formidable on-screen ‘bitch’, the show rated successfully on its initial run, and was nominated for a Logie the following year before its eventual cancellation.

The Weakest Link
©Seven Network

By this point, Mike had long moved out of the old family home and retired to the Blue Mountains, with Corney buying a new place that, for six years, she had shared with her good friend Stephen. Son Lawrence had married and moved up to Byron Bay, working as a graphic designer, and in February 2001, Corney was delighted to welcome a granddaughter, Tipani.

Now back under the Seven umbrella, 2001 also saw Corney make a long awaited return to Home and Away, in a three week stint which saw Morag unexpectedly turning up to preside over Kane Phillip’s rape trial. She subsequently departed the bay with her nephew Duncan, having decided to take him under her wing following a deterioration in his relationship with Alf.

(L)Morag’s shock return to the bay in 2001. (R) Morag at Dani Sutherland’s trial two years later.
©Seven Network

She later returned for a longer stint airing from October 2002, which saw Morag showing a rare vulnerable side when Alf was suffering the effects of a brain tumour. Despite this, Morag was still able to butt heads with local villainess Angie Russell.

With co-stars Judy Nunn, Norman Coburn and Ray Meagher in 2002 ©Seven Network

In 2003, Corney had a guest role in another Seven show, Always Greener, and told her life story in her autobiography, ‘And What Have You Done Lately?’, named for the one question that seems to be asked at all auditions.

After completing her book, Corney began to play a much bigger role in Home and Away, returning as Morag on recurring basis from 2004. It was during this time that she was involved in major storylines such as the Project 56 fiasco. She also forged many great friendships, including with Mark Furze and Todd Lasance—who played her great-nephew, Ric Dalby and troubled teen, Aden Jefferies respectively—and Script Producer Dan Bennett.

Morag and Alf welcome Ric Dalby (Mark Furze) to the family
©Seven Network

Corney on-set with Conrad Coleby (Roman) in 2007
©Back to the Bay

After signing a semi-regular contract from 2007, Corney relished in the fact that her character finally began to show a new side when Morag embarked on a relationship with a former flame, Detective Ross Buckton. The idea, put forward by Corney herself, was that the storyline should give many career driven women a character they could relate to. She even suggested David Downer as the actor she wished to act opposite, and David was the actor who indeed got the role, with the pair playing out a budding on-screen romance as if they were teenagers.

Morag wed Ross Buckton (David Downer) in 2008
©Seven Network

Corney engaged in many different pastimes when she wasn’t onscreen, she had a love of Latin American jazz (she could even play the bongos), an addiction to crosswords, and was renowned amongst friends for her legendary dinner parties.

As a writer, Corney had plans to release two new books, however these never came to fruition. In the mid-2000s, a thief broke into Corney’s Sydney residence whilst she was holidaying in the UK and stole everything, including her laptop. Hours of work disappeared and while she contemplated rewriting these novels, she knew she would never be happy with them and ceded to let the ideas rest.

Corney with her Calendar Girls co-stars
©Gordon Frost Organisation

As a stage actress, Corney filled her time onstage in the late noughties, most notably in 2010, when she joined big names such as Amanda Muggleton and Lorraine Bayly in the stage show, Calendar Girls. The show follows a group of women from Yorkshire as they embark on a mission to produce a nude calendar to raise money for leukaemia research.

It was a joke from her son however that turned her into an activist. During a trip to Borneo, Corney was met by an orangutan who offered her a piece of pineapple. It was the fact that orangutans don’t share food, coupled with the animal snuggling up to her afterwards, that resulted in the term “Redheads for Redheads” being coined by Lawrence and a campaign beginning. For several years, Corney was ambassador for the Australian Orangutan Project, a not-for-profit organisation which raises funds for the support of orangutans and the preservation of the habitats in Indonesia.

Photo ©Michael Malherbe

After an almost three year absence, Corney returned to Home and Away, with her initial return scenes airing in 2016. She returned to filming once again in October 2016, and just a week after completing filming in November, was delivered the news that she had bladder cancer and started immediate treatment.

At the time, Back to the Bay had been in talks with her to do an interview for the website, but sadly, this never came to fruition. Corney’s final scene on Home and Away eventually aired on 25th April 2017.

Corney’s final scene as Morag Bellingham
©Seven Network

Corney’s final scene as Morag Bellingham
©Seven Network

Corney was a battler. Even after the cancer spread to her hip, causing it to fracture, and she was struck down with a perforated ulcer which nearly cost her life, she never stopped fighting. Despite undergoing both radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the cancer later metastasised to her spine, and in January 2018, she made the brave decision to reveal her illness to the media.

The following month, she was moved into palliative care at Sydney’s Greenwich Hospital—which had, somewhat ironically, been used as the fictional Albert Memorial Hospital in The Young Doctors. It was here from her hospital bed that Corney made her final on-screen appearance, in a special interview for A Current Affair, conducted by Brady Halls.

Corney surrounded by her nearest and dearest for her birthday.
Photo supplied by Dan Bennett.

On 7th April 2018, Corney celebrated her 77th birthday, and her wish for a party was granted when her nearest and dearest—including the likes of Judy Nunn & Bruce Venables, Axle Whitehead, Paula Duncan, Andrew McFarlane and Dan Bennett—gathered around her hospital bed. Lawrence told magazine New Idea “Mum had the best day, surrounded by some of her closest friends. It was wonderful to see her smile and laugh.

Despite her prognosis, Corney never let it get the better of her. She always maintained her positivity and was sipping her beloved Mumm, a French champagne she adored, right up until the very end.

At around 12:20pm on Monday 28th May 2018, Cornelia Frances Eastland passed away peacefully, with Lawrence at her bedside.

I was by her side, holding her hand when she took her last breath” he told New Idea. “She slipped away in her sleep. It was serene. There was no pain. I feel relieved that Mum is finally at peace.

A private funeral was held on Thursday 31st May with just her family and closest friends in attendance.


For a more in-depth look into the first six decades of Corney’s fascinating life, be sure to track down a copy of her autobiography And What Have You Done Lately? – published by Pan Macmillan Australia in 2003. ISBN 0732911613.

For a full rundown of the character of Morag Bellingham, see our character profile.


Tributes

Back to the Bay have spoken to a number of Corney’s former Home and Away co-workers and friends, who have been kind enough to share these words with us.

Dan Bennett
Former Script Producer/Executive

©Patrick Riviere/Getty Images. Licensed by Back to the Bay.

There are few people who can claim the title of Australian television royalty. Cornelia Frances exuded that mantle… and more. Her accomplishments are too long to list, such was her extraordinary talent, so I’ll stick to talking about the incomparable Morag Bellingham in Home and Away. Strong, fierce, exceptional… she created a real force of nature, cementing her place as one of the most adored characters in the show’s history.

And more than that – MOST importantly – she was an incredible human being. She exuded love. My best mate. My thoughts are with her son Lawrence and granddaughter Tipani. She will be forever missed. Home and Away will never be the same.


Judy Nunn
Ailsa Stewart

Corney and I were very good friends, I loved her dearly. We first met while working on The Box feature film in 1975 and have been friends ever since. We also worked together on Sons and Daughters and Home and Away, so we’ve been a fixture in each other’s lives both on-screen and off. Corn was not only an excellent actress, a fun human being and a stylish woman, she was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. She will be sorely missed by all of her many friends.


Norman Coburn
Donald Fisher

I adored Corney and I really adored working with her, she was such fun and always very professional. She could be very sophisticated, but at the same time a warm, accessible, and sometimes vulnerable woman. There was something almost child-like about her (though not childish), just fabulous.

I remember one day where we had a number of scenes to get through, finishing up with a particularly long scene where Corney had to cry. Corney was so easy to work with that we completed virtually all of them in one take, and wrapped around three hours ahead of schedule. So we went to the pub for a drink and a long chat!

But that’s just how she was. There was no side to her, she was always the same Corney—a delightful person who I’ll always remember kindly.


Lyn Collingwood
Colleen Smart

I loved acting with Corney who always took her work seriously and was well prepared. I never envied her learning all those legal lines! A salute to a true professional. And we had a lot of fun, especially the scenes where it was discovered Colleen was really Morag’s half sister. High life meets low life ~ delicious chemistry.


Peter Vroom
Lance Smart

I played a goofy low IQ goon on the show and she played the person you love to hate. And boy did she do it well. She was such a delightful professional in real life but on screen – OH MY you just hated her. We did a lot of scenes together. She played a judge and she was the epitome of professionalism. Delivering day in and day out that – OH GOD character that you hated but didn’t want to miss watching. That’s quite a talent to be able to carry that off and Cornelia did it so well. She is resting now yet her memory lives on in the lives of millions of people around the world. Much love to you Corney.
Also posted on Peter’s blog


Laurie Foell
Angie & Josie Russell

I loved Corney and was really upset to hear about her death. We were great mates while I was on the show and I really enjoyed all the conversations I had with her in between filming, funnily enough not so much about work, more about life and family or rather her only son. She absolutely loved and doted on her boy and she spoke of him a lot. That’s what I remember more than anything, the conversations that we had rather than the scenes we did together. She was such a great, fine lady who absolutely loved her job. A class act.


Ivar Kants
Barry Hyde

Recently by chance, I watched our last scene together. I thought, what a career you’ve had Cornelia. Whatever you did, whatever you were in – you were totally committed. So admirable!

It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me…..


Holly Brisley
Amanda Vale

I loved working with Cornelia as she was a beautiful lady with a wicked sense of humour, caring nature and a fun take on life. She suffered no fools, which I really liked about her because she said what she thought, something I always admire in people.

Corney had a way of connecting with the younger actors and creatives and I really enjoyed working alongside her. Morag and Amanda had a number of fabulous scenes together throughout my time on the show, memories I will always cherish. It’s very sad that she has now left us, the industry won’t be the same without her. Sending much love and light to her family at this time, this is a huge loss for them and everyone who knew her.


Sarah Walker
Former Script Producer/Consultant

For many years, I had the pleasure of working with Cornelia during her regular stints on Home and Away. It’s saddening and sobering to consider that the beloved character of Morag, always so richly played by Cornelia, will never grace our screens again going forward. The memorable mixture of complexity, warmth and flashing intelligence that Cornelia brought to her roles is rare and will be much missed – as will her staunch professionalism.  It was always reassuring to write material for this wonderful actress, knowing she could deliver even the longest, driest legal-speak with a spark that was uniquely hers. Vale Cornelia.


Coral Drouyn
Former Script Producer

I first met Cornelia Frances in 1980 when she played a lawyer on Prisoner.  I was new to the show as a writer, and (shock horror) I hadn’t watched The Young Doctors so I didn’t know who she was. I was watching the day’s shooting. She looked intimidating, and I was hesitant to approach her…and there are very few people in the world who could intimidate me at any age. She had a presence which meant that you instantly noticed her if she was in a room. She “pulled focus” as we say. I smiled at her anyway.

But looks are deceiving. She was warm and open, and within a very few minutes of talking we discovered a link… a sixth (or second) degree of separation. Her uncle was the famed British film director Michael Powell. My grandparents had been part of Powell’s repertory of actors, appearing in around 10 of his films. We fantasised whether we might have met as kids (Corney was 3½ years older than me) especially as she knew my Uncle (a theatre manager) and Auntie from her childhood in Liverpool, and, later on, I worked with her first cousin Kevin.

We didn’t stay in touch however, and the next time we met was when I took over as Script Producer on Home and Away, and Corny was doing another stint as Morag. She was fantastic, but such a strong presence on screen that, just by her natural ability, she could steal every scene and swamp some of the younger actors.  Ray Meagher was more than able to hold his own with her, but not everyone was that skilled. We talked about possible storylines for Morag and she really had good ideas. She also was quite forward in expressing when she thought story ideas were “a load of bollocks

She told me once that she had to be a bloody good actress because, at best, her looks could be called “interesting.”  “I like my face” she said, “But then I don’t have to look at it.

She was a consummate professional, and very few could play strong acerbic women as well as she could. But out of character she was a no-nonsense professional with a warm and witty personality.  She was an all -embracing and genuine woman who loved her craft but was philosophical about the transient nature of celebrity. “I have to make the work good now, because they won’t remember me when I’m gone.

Oh yes we will Cornelia…. yes we will.


The Seven Network provided an official statement to the media following Corney’s passing, and both Seven and the UK’s Channel 5 broadcast a tribute caption following the episode airing on Tuesday 29th May.

Home and Away’s on-screen tribute on the Seven Network

Seven Network Statement
Cornelia Frances was a unique person. 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 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.

Lynne McGranger added: “I worked with Cornelia for many years. She was very loved and respected. In a way she paved the way for women in Australian TV always playing such strong characters. My thoughts are with Lawrence and her family.


A number of other cast members past and present shared their own tributes to Corney on social media, which we have included below for posterity. Click on the actors name to view the original posts and images on their social media account.

 

Georgie Parker (Ruth Stewart, 2010-present)
She gave so much of herself to us over the years. An incredible body of work left for us to reflect on and thank her for. Cornelia, you truly are one in a million. You were a great actress, Mother and friend to many. We will all miss you dearly. Rest In Peace. 🌸

 

Esther Anderson (Charlie Buckton)
RIP Cornelia Frances ❤🙏 You will always be remembered. My very first scene in H & A was with Cornelia..I was terrified..but she was the kindest and not once made me feel like an amateur or less than. So lucky to have worked with such a talented, strong woman. Much much love to all her family and friends right now xxxx

 

Mark Furze (Ric Dalby)
This is my dear friend Corney. Way back when I started on Home and Away she was so kind to me, we became great mates. Such a fun, thoughtful and giving woman, we would play board games, drink wine and listen to Latin jazz til the wee hours of the morning. She’s moved on now, but will always hold the title of the worst charades partner ever. It’s a blessing to have known and loved you, Mama Duck, thank you for being my friend 💛

 

Emily Symons (Marilyn Chambers)
Such terribly sad news about our beautiful Corney. An incredible lady, a loving mother and a magnificent actress. Kind, generous and so much fun. Marilyn’s ill-fated stint as Morag Bellingham’s housekeeper is one of my favourite Corney memories and we laughed about it many times over the years. This photo is how I will always remember her, having a laugh with Judy, Ray and Norman. With wine. Rest In Peace darling, we shall miss you.

 

Ada Nicodemou (Leah Patterson)
Yesterday we lost our dear friend and colleague. Corney you’ll be sadly missed, we all loved and respected you so much. Thank you for your friendship, your big beautiful heart and your amazing laugh. May you Rest In Peace. 💕

 

Debra Lawrance (Pippa Ross)
There will another soul honoured in the In Memoriam section of the Logies and the AACTA awards. Vale dear Cornie, we loved working with you – larger than life and such a generous heart. The end of a very fine career. 🙌🏻🙌🏻

 

Luke Jacobz (Angelo Rosetta)
So sad to hear of sweet Cornie today. We would always have fun! She knew how to put a smile on my face! RIP LOVELY!!

 

Sam Atwell (Kane Phillips)
So sorry to hear of the passing of the brilliant Cornelia Frances. Such a lovely, lively person and fantastic actor. Corny it was a pleasure and you will be missed. Vale.

 

Nicholas Bishop (Peter Baker
My beautiful friend Corny. Today our hearts are heavy. Your smile was always so broad. Your arms always wide open. And your stories could fill up an ocean. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

 

David Jones-Roberts (Xavier Austin)
I had the pleasure of working with the beautiful, amazing, iconic Cornelia Frances. I remember being intimidated, when I was going to shoot my first scene with her. As she played such a strong intimidating woman and I had no idea what to expect. Instead she greeted me with a big smile, a big hug and told me stories about working with my dad on Sons and Daughters. Such a lovely woman. You’ll be missed RIP. ❤

 

Lincoln Younes (Casey Braxton)
Vale . You were always ahead of the game. Will miss your witty banter on-set X

 

Kimberley Cooper (Gypsy Nash)
Limo on the way to the Logies
Me: I’m coming on Celebrity Weakest Link next week.
Cornelia: I know!
Me: Can I vote for you to be eliminated
Cornelia: (eyes narrow, slight smirk) You can try.
An absolute gem of a human and a wit that could slice through metal it was that sharp. You will be missed but never forgotten xx