Iconic Australian TV presenter and ‘first lady of children’s television’ dies at age 92

Pioneering Australian kids presenter Dawn Kenyon, known as the ‘first lady of children’s television’ in the country, died earlier this week at 92.

The beloved personality became Australia’s first female host on a children’s show, when she presented Captain Fortune in 1956, the same year TV came to the country.

She was born as Dorothy Dingwell in the regional Queensland town of Toowoomba in 1932, and developed a reputation for presenting several early Aussie kids shows with enthusiasm.

Kenyon also presented the early Channel Seven kids learning show Romper Room in the late fifties, several years before the similarly themed Play School premiered on the ABC in 1966.

She was known to her many young viewers as Miss Dawn, as she engaged and entertained thousands of children across the country. 

Pioneering Australian kids presenter Dawn Kenyon (pictured), known as the ‘first lady of children’s television’ in the country, died earlier this week at 92

The beloved personality became Australia's first female host on a children's show, when she presented the kid's variety show Captain Fortune in 1956, the same year TV came to the country. She also presented Romper Room, which was a precursor to the ABC's Play School

The beloved personality became Australia’s first female host on a children’s show, when she presented the kid’s variety show Captain Fortune in 1956, the same year TV came to the country. She also presented Romper Room, which was a precursor to the ABC’s Play School

In 1957, she married British television engineer Fred Kenyon, and the couple had three children – Steven, Peter and Anne. 

In addition to her on-camera work, Kenyon also worked behind the scenes as a producer and screenwriter.

However, upon getting married she decided to give up her presenting career and relocate with her husband to England, after he accepted a job. 

Kenyon was known to her many young viewers as Miss Dawn, as she engaged and entertained thousands of children across the country

Kenyon was known to her many young viewers as Miss Dawn, as she engaged and entertained thousands of children across the country

Many of Dawn’s industry friends were quick to pay tribute to her upon learning of her death.

‘Dawn was always a shining light,’ Australian journalist Anita Jacoby said in a statement.

‘She was so often the first to greet us, introduce us to new families, and lead us deeper into that magic of the Merry Makers,’ added 60 Minutes veteran Jeff McMullen. 

Sadly, her beloved husband Fred died in December 2020, after 63 years of marriage.

Dawn is survived by her three children.

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