Celeb News

Cornelia Frances: a look back at the Home and Away star’s incredible life

The beloved Aussie actress was one of the most recognisable faces on TV.

By Alex Lilly
She only went public with her cancer battle in January, and on Monday May 28th beloved soap star Cornelia Frances died after passing away from bladder cancer.
Despite undergoing chemo and radiation treatment, the cancer metastasised in Cornelia's spine and she spent the final months of her life in palliative care.
Not only does she leave behind her son Lawrence Eastland and granddaughter Tipani, but also an inspirational legacy as an Australian icon on the silver screen.
The actress was best known for her television roles including Morag Bellingham on Home and Away and host of the quiz series The Weakest Link.
As fans and co-stars alike mourn her passing, we take a look back at the incredible life of Cornelia Frances.

Cornelia Frances' career highlights and most memorable roles

Cornelia Frances as Sister Scott in The Young Doctors. (Image via TV Tonight.)
Born in Liverpool, England in 1941, Cornelia Frances was educated at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Though she had some early extra work in London, it wasn't until she emigrated to Australia in the 1970s that her career took off.
She rose to fame as Sister Grace Scott on Nine's The Young Doctors and went on to portray Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters.
Cornelia is probably best remembered for her role as Alf Stewart's sharp-tongued sister Judge Morag Bellingham on Home and Away which she played on and off for 29 years.
See her in action as Morag below.
Over the years, Cornelia racked up an impressive six TV WEEK Logie nominations for her on-screen work.
"It's a public opinion. They like nice ladies, not b*s or nasty people. I've enjoyed it, and being nominated is an honour," she told A Current Affair.
"I've been very lucky, and I thanks all the producers who hired me."
Cornelia also said she playing the "naughty and wicked" characters was lots of fun and "always played the strong ladies."
"I've loved every soap I've been on, it's hard not to. I've loved every one of them."
Though it wasn't just soaps, Cornelia took on the iconic role as host of the Australian version of quiz show, The Weakest Link, which ran from 2001-2002. Her catchphrase, "You are the weakest link, goodbye," will live on forever.
Take a trip down memory lane with the video below of Cornelia hosting.

Cornelia's family and personal life

Cornelia married her husband Michael Eastland in 1969 and they had one son, Lawrence.
The pair eventually divorced but she always remained close to her adult son, with the actress appearing frequently on his Instagram page.
"Lawrence is truly devastated by the passing of his mum, they were the best of friends," show business reporter Craig Bennett tells Woman's Day.
Lawrence also has a 17 year-old daughter, Cornelia's granddaughter, Tipani.

During the last weeks of her life, Cornelia was surrounded by her friends and family who threw her a 77th birthday bash from her hospital bed last month.
The party included co-stars Judy Nunn, Paula Duncan, Andrew McFarlane, Axle Whitehead and her son Lawrence.

Philanthropic work

She may have portrayed stern and scary characters on our screens, but when the cameras were turned off, Cornelia dedicated a lot of her time to orangutan conservation with The Orangutan Project.
In 2011, her son Lawrence came up with a line, ''Redheads for Redheads'' and the practical joke stuck.
The Orangutan Project loved the idea and from then, Cornelia became an ambassador for the charity.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012, she said, ''I had absolutely no idea about the problem, hadn't given it any thought, until my son came up with this slogan,'' she says. ''He joked about the orang-utans being distant relatives of mine and so we got on board with The Orangutan Project and once I found out more about what's going on it infuriated me … the burning of the rainforest, the poaching, the killing, it's just terrible.''

Cornelia's battle with cancer

The screen icon discovered she had bladder cancer during a routine check-up at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, the same hospital at which The Young Doctors was filmed.
"I swear I have had a hex placed on me for the past 12 months," she told The Daily Telegraph in January.
"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. Despite all this, I am still here, as the old song goes."
Cornelia's son Lawrence shared a peaceful photo of his mother in her final days on Instagram.

Rest in peace Cornelia.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.