Sad news coming from the Australian TV industry today, with word coming through that beloved actor Cornelia Frances, best known to Australian audiences as Morag Bellingham on Home & Away, passed away overnight in Sydney. She was 77.
Frances had been battling cancer that was diagnosed in her bladder in 2017, with the disease subsequently spreading to her hip.
Frances carved out a memorable role on the long-running soap as the fearsome Morag, the sister of Alf Stewart and a chief antagonist of the series throughout her various appearances. Frances portrayed Morag from 1988 until 1993, and then again on a permanent basis from 2001 until 2009, making sporadic appearances after that. Morag’s final episode went to air on April 25th, 2017.
Beyond that, Frances also carved out a highly memorable role on Australian TV as the prickly and severe host of the local version of The Weakest Link, which aired on Seven between 2001 and 2002.
Frances’ career spanned some 47 years, beginning with a role on the short-lived 1970 drama Dynasty, and growing to include credits on just about every notable Australian TV show of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including The Young Doctors, Homicide, Division 4, Kingswood Country, Sons & Daughters, Prisoner, and The Ferals.
Frances revealed her cancer diagnosis in an interview with NewsCorp in January, stating at the time that she remained hopeful of returning to Summer Bay to reprise her most famous role one day soon.
She is survived by her son, Laurence.
Rest well, Morag.