Australian singer and actress Lorrae Desmond has died aged 91.
The local showbiz icon, best known for her role in A Country Practice, has reportedly lost a short battle with illness, TV Blackbox reports.
Desmond, who was born Beryl Hunt, played Shirley Gilroy on Seven’s popular Aussie soap opera for 816 episodes from its inception in 1981 until 1992.
A Country Practice certainly bolstered her career but Desmond was already established in the entertainment industry, having been the first female to win the Gold Logie for The Lorrae Desmond Show, which ran from 1960 to 1964.
Desmond’s close friend, New Zealand singer Dinah Lee, released a statement reading: “My Beautiful friend and a true Australian Legend passed away today. We toured Vietnam together in 1967 and remained friends to this day. My thoughts and love to your family, friends and your many fans. Rest In Peace Lorrae Desmond.”
Others have also taken to Twitter to pay their respects.
Vale Lorrae Desmond.
We all loved her.
— Shane Withington. (@ripperriver) May 23, 2021
Saddened to hear of the passing of an Aussie Acting icon and a woman who I became friends with many years ago. Thank you for the laughs and loooong yarns. May you Rest In Peace. #lorraedesmondpic.twitter.com/z9y6R2bp3G
— Daniel Strickland (@DanStrickAus) May 23, 2021
Very sad to hear about the death of Lorrae Desmond. @kimlester and I were fortunate enough to do one of her last interviews after learning about her generosity on set through countless actors on #ACountryPodcast.
She was so loved, and had an extraordinary life. Vale. pic.twitter.com/iICHRSfnQY
— Melanie Tait (@MelanieTait) May 23, 2021
Desmond grew up in the town of Mittagong, NSW but moved to the UK with her family when she was a child.
She began carving a career in entertainment in Britain, where she represented the nation at the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest.
Desmond returned to Australia in the early ‘60s when she began her self-titled show, which was built around live performances and dancing.
The veteran then hit the road to entertain troops in Vietnam, the Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Kenya and Somalia between 1967 and 1971.
She also had a brief stint on Home And Away in 1997, when she played Donald Fisher’s mother, Isobel Dupre.
Desmond was married to Sydney surgeon Dr. Alex Gorshenin from 1963 to 1976.
Just this year, Desmond was honoured in the Australia Day 2021 Honours list as a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service in performing arts.
She told TV Tonight of the honour in January, “I don’t know what I did to deserve it. But I am very honoured. It was a big surprise.”
Desmond told the website she was “grateful to still be alive”, and was now residing in Queensland.
“I’m grateful to still be alive. I’ll be partying with friends and family on the Gold Coast. While they enjoy champagne I’ll be having Sambuca,” she said.
Originally published as ‘An icon’: Gold Logie winner dead