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Home and Away star Cornelia Frances dies at 77

Cornelia Frances’ son has shared a heartbreaking photo of his mother in her last days, as tributes pour in for the TV legend following her death aged 77.

The Australian actress, known for her roles in Home and Away, Prisoner and Sons and Daughters, died overnight in Sydney surrounded by her friends and family.

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Cornelia was diagnosed with bladder cancer over a year ago and, later, doctors told her the disease had spread to her hip and spine.

 

‘I love you, mum’: Cornelia Frances’ son has shared a heartbreaking photo of his mother in her last days, as tributes pour in for the TV legend following her death aged 77 overnight 

Cornelia’s son, Lawrence Eastland, captioned the image of his mother in her hospital bed: ‘A very personal photo of my mum during one of her resting moments.

‘She is so peaceful, soft and serene. I truly love this woman,’ he added, alongside the hashtags: ‘Strong’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘I love you, Mum’.

During an interview from her hospital bed with A Current Affair earlier this year, it was revealed Cornelia was being treated at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.

Coincidentally, this was the same hospital where she filmed the iconic Channel Nine series The Young Doctors in the 1970s – something that she revealed gave her a ‘different view altogether’. 

Health struggle: Cornelia was diagnosed with bladder cancer over a year ago and, later, doctors told her the disease had spread to her hip and spine. Pictured in hospital in February

Health struggle: Cornelia was diagnosed with bladder cancer over a year ago and, later, doctors told her the disease had spread to her hip and spine. Pictured in hospital in February

During the interview, which ended up being her last, she discussed the ‘pain’ she was suffering while battling cancer – but bravely added that she was feeling ‘fine’. 

Cornelia assured her fans that she would fight the cancer that had spread beyond her bladder at that point.

‘The pain comes and goes but you expect that, it’s par for the course,’ the TV star defiantly said at the time. 

Reflecting on her 50-year entertainment career, she said in February: ‘I’d like to thank the producers who hired me because it ain’t easy to put a b***h on television.’

'I would dearly love to go back to Summer Bay': Earlier this year, Cornelia had expressed hopes that she would reprise her role as Alf Stewart's villainous sister, Morag Bellingham

‘I would dearly love to go back to Summer Bay’: Earlier this year, Cornelia had expressed hopes that she would reprise her role as Alf Stewart’s villainous sister, Morag Bellingham

Character actress: Cornelia, who emigrated to Australia from England in the 1970s, found success playing villains in a string of successful TV shows. Pictured on  The Young Doctors

Character actress: Cornelia, who emigrated to Australia from England in the 1970s, found success playing villains in a string of successful TV shows. Pictured on The Young Doctors

Cornelia added that she had no hard feelings about never winning a Logie Award – Australian TV’s highest honour – despite being nominated six times.

‘It’s a public opinion, they don’t like the b***hes, they like the nice ladies. Being nominated was a great thrill, it was lovely,’ she said. 

Cornelia, also known as the host of Australia’s The Weakest Link, had celebrated her 77th birthday with loved ones from her hospital bed just last month.

Famous role: Earlier this year, it was revealed that Cornelia was receiving cancer treatment at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital - where she had previously filmed The Young Doctors

Famous role: Earlier this year, it was revealed that Cornelia was receiving cancer treatment at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital – where she had previously filmed The Young Doctors

Earlier this year, she expressed hopes that she would reprise her role as Alf Stewart’s villainous sister, Morag Bellingham, on Home and Away.

She told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘I would dearly love to go back to Summer Bay but haven’t heard anything as yet.’

In January, the Liverpool-born television star revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer 12 months earlier.

‘I discovered I had bladder cancer. This then spread to my hip bone which fractured, and then I almost died from loss of blood due to an ulcer in my throat,’ she said.

‘Despite all this, I am still here, as the old song goes.’

Legend: Cornelia recently said she had no hard feelings about never winning a Logie Award - Australian TV's highest honour - despite being nominated six times

Legend: Cornelia recently said she had no hard feelings about never winning a Logie Award – Australian TV’s highest honour – despite being nominated six times

Cornelia, who emigrated to Australia from England in the 1970s, found success playing villains in a string of successful TV shows. 

The acting legend is survived by her son, Lawrence, who told New Idea only weeks ago that she had enjoyed celebrating her birthday with family.

‘Mum had the best day surrounded by some of her closest friends,’ he said. ‘It was wonderful to see her smile and laugh.’

Lawrence added: ‘Ever the trouper, she remains positive and is hoping for a miracle.’

Touching: Ray Meagher, who played Cornelia's on-screen brother Alf Stewart said on Tuesday, 'Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years'

Touching: Ray Meagher, who played Cornelia’s on-screen brother Alf Stewart said on Tuesday, ‘Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years’

'In our thoughts': Home and Away stalwart Ada Nicodemou (right), who has played Leah Patterson-Baker since 2000, also shared her condolences

‘In our thoughts’: Home and Away stalwart Ada Nicodemou (right), who has played Leah Patterson-Baker since 2000, also shared her condolences

Channel Seven paid tribute to Cornelia on Tuesday, describing her as an inspirational and ‘unique person’.

The acting legend is survived by her son, Lawrence, who told New Idea only weeks ago that she had enjoyed celebrating her birthday with family.

‘Mum had the best day surrounded by some of her closest friends,’ he said. ‘It was wonderful to see her smile and laugh.’

Lawrence added: ‘Ever the trouper, she remains positive and is hoping for a miracle.’

Channel Seven paid tribute to Cornelia on Tuesday, describing her as an inspirational and ‘unique person’.

A spokesperson said. ‘Her onscreen presence inspired a generation of actors. 

Fearful TV presenter: Cornelia was the host of Australia's version of The Weakest List, taking on the role made famous by Anne Robinson in the British and American series

Fearful TV presenter: Cornelia was the host of Australia’s version of The Weakest List, taking on the role made famous by Anne Robinson in the British and American series

‘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 also said on Tuesday: ‘Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years.’

He added to the Daily Telegraph: ‘We had a moment of silence for her on set (of Home and Away) this morning and she’ll be sadly missed by both cast and crew.’

Fellow Summer Bay alumnus Judy Nunn and her husband Bruce Venables said their ‘goodbyes’ a week ago, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Judy, 73, said: ‘She died with the same grace and dignity with which she lived. Cornelia was a very close friend. I loved her dearly. I will miss you Corn, we all will.’ 

Cancer battle: In January this year, the television star revealed that she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer 12 months earlier. Pictured in 2008

Cancer battle: In January this year, the television star revealed that she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer 12 months earlier. Pictured in 2008

Home and Away stalwart Ada Nicodemou, 41, who has played Leah Patterson-Baker since 2000, also shared her condolences.

She said: ‘Cornelia was very loved and respected. She’ll be sadly missed. Lawrence [Eastland, Cornelia’s son], her family and friends are in our thoughts.’

Lynne McGranger, who is best known for her longtime portrayal of Irene Roberts, spoke warmly of the woman she had worked with for ‘many years’.

‘She was very loved and respected,’ Lynne, 65, said. 

‘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.’

Today Extra host and musical theatre star David Campbell, 44, tweeted about the news of Cornelia’s death: ‘A terrific Australian actor and lovely person.’

Rest in peace: Working in the industry for almost half a century, the veteran actress appeared in numerous television shows, stage performances and films in her time

Rest in peace: Working in the industry for almost half a century, the veteran actress appeared in numerous television shows, stage performances and films in her time

From Alf’s evil sister Morag to the fearful Weakest Link host: The life and times of Cornelia Frances

From playing Alf Stewart’s evil sister Morag Bellingham in Home and Away to becoming the fearful host of The Weakest Link, Cornelia Frances was undoubtedly Australia’s favourite TV villain.

Working in the industry for almost half a century, the veteran actress appeared in numerous television shows, stage performances and films in her time. 

Her first ever screen role was in the 1960 movie Peeping Tom, which was directed by her uncle Michael Powell. 

Icon: The legendary TV villain was perhaps best known for playing Alf Stewart's  sister Morag Bellingham in Home and Away from 1988. She last appeared on the soap in 2017

Icon: The legendary TV villain was perhaps best known for playing Alf Stewart’s sister Morag Bellingham in Home and Away from 1988. She last appeared on the soap in 2017

Ten years later, she made her move to television, playing Georgina Clausen on Dynasty. In 1976, she appeared as Sister Scott on The Young Doctors.

Following her three-year stint on The Young Doctors, Cornelia next appeared as Carmel Saunders on TV series Prisoner: Cell Block H.

On the prison drama, she played the tough lawyer who was handling inmate Pat O’Connell’s appeal.

After starring on a handful of shows following Prisoner, her next notable role was as Barbara Hamilton/Armstrong in the series Sons and Daughters in 1982.

Legend: Cornelia's most famous roles included Sister Grace Scott on The Young Doctors, and Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters

Legend: Cornelia’s most famous roles included Sister Grace Scott on The Young Doctors, and Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters

However, her longest character arc was on Channel Seven soap Home and Away – playing Alf Stewart’s villainous sister, Morag Bellingham.

Cornelia portrayed the stern barrister and judge who had a clear dislike for Summer Bay and the people in it – including her own family.

Debuting on the soap in 1988, she became a recurring guest star for 30 years.

Her appearance in episode 6,645 – which aired on April 25, 2017 – would ultimately became her last TV appearance as an actor.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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