We look at the amazing career of one of our most loved and admired actresses.
WHO WAS SHE: Sharon Lewis (1975) THE LOWDOWN: Billed as “young, blonde and available”, Sharon, UCV Channel 12’s production assistant, was initially the target of the office sleaze before going on to replace Lindy Jones as secretary to programming manager Nick Freeman. Sharon became so unsettled when she developed romantic feelings for Nick that she transferred to become Max Knight’s secretary instead, to keep her emotions under control. Eventually, she left the station for greener pastures.
WHO WAS SHE: Lill Duggan (1976-78)
THE LOWDOWN: A native of a country town called Burrabri, the long-suffering and neglected Lill completely uprooted her way of life to move to Melbourne to support her self-centred and ignorant husband Bert. Lodging with Mrs Jessup, Lill was regularly left home alone while devious womaniser Bert prowled the streets looking for trouble. He eventually found it in illegal bookmaking, which motivated him to enlist in the Army to fight in World War II to escape arrest for his crimes. Devastated by Bert’s departure, Lill valiantly struggled at home after discovering she was pregnant. Giving birth to baby boy John Albert, Lill faced life
as a single mother after news reached her that Bert had been killed in a landmine explosion in North Africa in 1942. Craving a fresh start, Lill briefly relocated to Sydney before taking John Albert and returning home to Burrabri to put her life back together.
Who WAS She: Maggie Woodbury (1984) The loWdoWN: The daughter of Les, a vaudeville comedian who worked at the Tivoli Theatre, Maggie and her partner Maxey hit seriously rough times when the Great Depression upended their lives in the 1930s. Maggie struggled with Maxey’s decision to go on strike as a wharfie and adhere to the union’s demands. The relationship was further tested as hungry Italian immigrants crossed the picket lines to work as scab labourers in a bid by the ship owners to destroy the union. The role won Hazlehurst the 1985 Logie for Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series or Telemovie.
Who WAS She: Nancy Wake (1987) The loWdoWN: In this inspiring true story, Hazlehurst played World War II heroine Nancy Wake, who risked her life and often performed daredevil feats to help the French Resistance defeat the occupying German forces throughout the war. The Australian heroine eventually became the Gestapo’s Most Wanted Person with a 5 million franc price on her head. After escaping France, she joined the British Special Operations Executive as an agent.
Who WAS She: Detective Superintendent Bernice Waverley (2007-11) The loWdoWN: A career cop since the age of 18 with over 30 years’ service under her belt, Bernice was a strong advocate for the advancement of women in the Police Service. However, her professional and personal lives clashed dreadfully when she was accused and suspended from the force for corruption.
Correctly believing she’d been framed, Bernice sought to prove her innocence and discovered that the perpetrator was the brother of a former police officer who Bernice had dismissed from the force. Wanting revenge for his disgraced brother’s eventual depression-fuelled suicide, the man abducted Bernice’s son Josh and fatally slashed the boy’s wrists, ensuring that the murder replicated his sibling’s suicide. Later in the series, Bernice was promoted to Commander of Crime.
A Place to Call home
Who IS She: Elizabeth Bligh (2013-present) The loWdoWN: Fiercely protective of the Bligh family dynasty, formidable matriarch Elizabeth will go to any extreme to uphold her family’s respected name. Dogged by a scandalous past in which her deceased husband lived a secret gay lifestyle while she maintained a public air of propriety for
And then there’s Play School
Away from acting, Noni developed a distinguished tenure on ABC children’s TV show Play School. As a presenter from 1978 to 2002, Noni entertained thousands of Australian kids with singing, gameplaying and the adventures of beloved stuffed toys like Jemima and Big Ted. It’s a gig that she says “changed my life”. “It was a fantastic job and taught me more about communicating than anything I’d ever done,” she explains. The role also prompted Noni to become national ambassador or patron for many children’s charities such as Barnados. She’s also recorded several music and spoken-word albums for children. the family’s sake, Elizabeth reacts badly to perceived interlopers. Her main target has been Nurse Sarah Adams who riled Elizabeth by falling in love with Elizabeth’s son George. With the help of George’s former sister-in-law Regina, Elizabeth schemed to banish the “Jewess” from her son’s life by digging up her secrets, which included Rene Nordman, the husband Sarah had thought killed during World War II in Europe.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s wicked efforts wrecked her relationship with her shocked family, forcing her off the family’s cherished estate Ash Park. Elizabeth’s ostracism from her family motivated her to change her often-negative approach to situations around her. With a worldlier outlook on life, Elizabeth struck up a gentle friendship/romance with Douglas Goddard but at the end of season three she suffered a devastating heart attack from which she may not survive.
Noni (centre, seated) in her present role as Elizabeth Bligh in A Place to Call Home. The spirited Noni as World War II heroine Nancy Wake in the 1987 mini-series Nancy Wake. As matriarch Elizabeth, Noni shows her talents, including piano playing.
Noni as detective Superintendent Bernice Waverley in City Homicide.