Saturday, 30 July 2016

RIP Vivean Gray

Veteran Australian-based actress Vivean Gray famous for her roles such films as Picnic at Hanging Rock and her iconic two year stint on Aussie soap Neighbours passed away this week at the age of 92.

Born Jean Vivra Gray in Cleethorpes, England in 1924, Gray initially worked as a photographer's assistant and a department store sales assistant before emigrating to Australia in 1952 to pursue an acting career.

In the 1970s she appeared in several television dramas and mini-series before starring as Miss McGraw in Peter Weir's classic 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock. So impressed was Weir with Gray's performance that he went on to cast her as Dr Whitburn, the expert in Aboriginal history, in his 1977 film The Last Wave.

But by that time Gray was making a name for herself as a regular in the hit Australian wartime soap The Sullivans. From 1976 to 1983 she starred as gossipy neighbour Ida Jessop, winning two Logie awards for Best Supporting Actress across the 16 season run.

It was a role that paved the way for her most infamous star turn, that of Mrs Mangel in the long running Australian soap opera Neighbours.

Gray was originally only signed to play nosy old busybody Nell Mangel for three weeks in 1986 but her ongoing feud with Anne Charleston's matriarch Madge Bishop proved so popular that she stayed in the show until 1988, appearing in 292 episodes in total and becoming one of the shows best loved and iconic characters. Indeed, Gray only quit Neighbours because of verbal attacks she received from a public who seemed unable to distinguish the actress from her on-screen character. 

Gray retired from acting after Neighbours and left Australia to return to the UK, spending the remainder of her days in Shoreham-By-Sean, West Sussex. In 1995 her likeness from Picnic at Hanging Rock appeared on a stamp in Australia.


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