Looking back on a Summer Bay legend: Marilyn’s most iconic moments on Home and Away

Take a stroll down memory lane...
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While the series boasts countless famous faces and jaw-dropping plotlines, there are few Home and Away characters who’ve made as much of an impact on the sunny town of Summer Bay as Marilyn Chambers.

Portrayed by the glamorous Emily Symons, Marilyn has been a fixture on our screens for more than 30 years, dipping in and out of the bay through the decades before settling back in town in 2010.

Marilyn – described as the ‘ditzy girl next door’ – debuted on Home and Away in 1989.

She quite literally crashed into the scene when her boyfriend, Lance Smart (portrayed by Peter Vroom), took her out on the water only to collide with a boat belonging to Alf Stewart (the iconic Ray Meagher).

Despite the crash, Marilyn made the decision to move to Summer Bay from the city and the rest, as they say, is history.

Marilyn (Emily Symons) and Angel (Melissa George) in a retro episode of Home and Away.

(Image: Channel Seven)

With her signature hairstyle, quirky traits and a few major romances, she’s since cemented her role as the loveable beautician in the bay.

Take a stroll down memory lane as we revisit some of Marilyn’s most iconic moments on Home and Away.

Image: Supplied

The Crash

Back where it all began! We first met Marilyn when she joined her boyfriend Lance for a disastrous date. Hiring a boat to impress his girlfriend, Lance accidentally hops on board the wrong one and ends up crashing his ride into that of Alf Stewart. Yikes.

The duo went missing amid the chaos, but Lance later turned up in the bay without Marilyn, revealing she’d returned home.

Image: Supplied

Settling into Summer Bay

Shortly after the crash Marilyn returned, announcing her decision to stay. Marilyn and Lance had a rocky road ahead of them as he tried to pump the breaks on their rapidly-moving relationship.

Despite romantic woes, Marilyn settled into the bay and began making friends with locals like Bobby (Nicolle Dickson, pictured).

Marilyn’s upbeat attitude captured the attention of viewers as she showed off her ditzy side with one-liners that had fans in stitches, like when she was asked how she was settling into Summer Bay. Marilyn giggled and said earnestly “the smell of the air, it’s so clean! It’s really good for you. It’s in figure skating [meaning invigorating] don’t you think?”

Image: Supplied

Lance and Marilyn’s complicated love story

From a job in the Diner to a gig as Morag’s housekeeper, Marilyn wore many hats in her early days. But one thing that remained consistent was her will-they-won’t-they relationship with Lance.

Breaking up and getting back together many times, their relationship came to a head after one called-off wedding (and the fact that actor Peter Vroom’s time on the show had come to an end).

Despite the fact that the duo never made it down the aisle, there are pictures of the pair in their wedding ensembles – seen here in a retro issue of TV WEEK.

Image: Supplied

Marriage to Principal Don

After a brief marriage to Phil Bryant, and a temporary departure from Summer Bay, Marilyn returned to town and later enrolled in school as a mature student to complete her HSC.

Here, her path crossed with Summer Bay High’s Principal, Donald Fisher (Norman Coburn). Despite their age difference, and very different personalities, the pair surprised everyone by getting married in 1996.

Image: Channel Seven

Marilyn becomes a mother

After suffering a miscarriage and facing fertility struggles, Marilyn and Donald were thrilled to welcome a baby boy, Byron Vincent – his middle name giving a nod to Vinnie Patterson (Ryan Kwanten), who helped Marilyn as she went into labour.

Tragically, Byron was diagnosed with cancer a few short months later. The family travelled to the United States to seek medical treatment, with their marriage beginning to crumble under the pressure. After losing their son, Donald returned to the bay alone.

Image: Channel Seven

Time to say goodbye

One year after Don returned to Summer Bay without Marilyn, the pair reunited in London. Finally, the duo agreed, it was time to officially divorce.

This brief appearance in 2001 marked the last time we would see Marilyn, until her return in 2010. Though, we would hear of her illness over the years.

Image: Channel Seven

Marilyn comes home

Much to the delight of Alf and her old friends, Marilyn returned home to Summer Bay in 2010. She moved in with Alf after he insisted she was “family” to him, joining other lodgers including Romeo Smith (Luke Mitchell) and Nicole Franklin (Tessa James).

After opening up her own business as a fortune teller, Marilyn met her new love interest, Sid Walker (Robert Mammone).

Marilyn and George

When a young Nicole Franklin discovered she was pregnant, she decided to give the baby to Marilyn and Sid to adopt. But the decision was not as easy as it first seemed to the young mother.

When George was born, Nicole struggled with her choice as she watched Marilyn bond with her baby. When she decided she wanted him back, Marilyn panicked and decided to go to London with George in tow – until Roo Stewart (Georgie Parker) convinced her to stay and return George to his mother. It was a heartbreaking storyline for Marilyn and fans of the show!

“She’s emotionally fragile and we’ve seen her break down and then become very resolved about keeping George,” Emily said of the shocking events in an interview at the time. “What she does next is out of character for her and very irresponsible.”

Image: Channel Seven

Third time’s a charm

After her called-off engagement with Lance and divorce from Don, Marilyn found her happily ever after with John Palmer. The duo began dating in 2013, eventually tying the knot in a beautiful Summer Bay ceremony.

After some initial hesitance, John’s son Jett (Will McDonald) grew to love his new stepmother and asked her to adopt him, making them a family.

Image: Channel Seven

A shocking turn of events

Shortly after her happy nuptials, Marilyn suffered another devastating blow. She was electrocuted in a ‘freak accident’ in the Diner, where she was discovered by Roo and Leah (Ada Nicodemou).

After being taken to hospital and placed in a coma, Marilyn woke up with amnesia. Having lost 20 years worth of memories, she no longer recognised John and believed herself to still be wed to Don.

Image: Channel Seven

A famous friend arrives

In 2015, Ed Sheeran made a cameo on Home and Away, starring as one of the children Marilyn babysat while living in London. Upon realising she was in the presence of a world-famous musician, Marilyn had Ed perform for the locals in the Diner.

“It’s an Australian institution. It’s always on in my local chip shop,” Ed said of his role. “I got asked to do it and it sounded like it could be fun.

Image: Instagram

Taking care of Raffy

Marilyn’s motherly instincts kicked in yet again when Raffy (Olivia Deeble) was having trouble at home with her family.

Despite the teenager having a tumultuous time settling – moving in and moving out over the years – she ended up staying close with her foster parents Marilyn and John until her departure.

Another sad ending

Despite their ups and downs, Marilyn and John enjoyed a happy marriage for some time in Summer Bay. But, all good things must come to an end. The pair went their separate ways in 2020 after six years of marriage. What will happen next in the life of our dear Marilyn? We can’t wait to find out!

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