• Marie-Anne, Li Ying, Lance and Michelle are among those unearthing hidden family truths. (SBS)
Twists and turns await these diverse Australians as they delve into family secrets.
By
Jim Mitchell

20 Jun 2019 - 3:47 PM  UPDATED 20 Jun 2019 - 3:47 PM

It takes an incredible amount of courage to investigate a long-hidden, confronting family truth, and these six everyday Australians have it in spades in SBS’ new three-part documentary series Every Family Has A Secret, hosted by much-loved actress Noni Hazlehurst.

Unknown parents, a Nazi collaborator, acrobats, conmen, crime, surveillance and newly found siblings are all in the mix in these remarkable, emotional and heartfelt life stories.

The unearthed family secrets on these surprising journeys in Australia and abroad will change the lives of each person forever.

Angela Hamilton

After her father passed away, Angela, who hails from Fremantle, WA, discovered evidence indicating that her father Pál Rozsy was a Nazi collaborator. She recalls growing up with a father who was a “rabid anti-Semite” and a “brutal, cruel man” who would beat her mother and siblings.

Angela wants to know why and when he became this way, travelling to his home country of Romania to find out. She investigates the mystery of her father’s time in jail, and discovers why he ended up in Australia after WW2.

Aided by experts, what Angela finds in documents that piece together an unknown part of her father’s life, is surprising and shocking. An incredibly emotional journey, she discovers a complex man and faces her worst fears.

Li Ying Andrews

Li Ying has only vague memories of her childhood, carrying the grief of not knowing her birth name or date, or what happened to her biological parents, for some 60 years.

Growing up in Taiwan was both a tragic and colourful experience, with Li Ying first raised along with her younger brother, by an uncle and aunty. They were then split up – he was sent to an orphanage, she was abandoned by her uncle at an acrobatics school where she was adopted by one of the owners.

In her youth, Li Ying travelled the world as an acrobat and contortionist with nightclub act ‘The Trio Fantastic’ – Li Ying is her stage name.

Now living in Sydney, the grandmother and mother of three only recently told her daughter Olivia of her mysterious origins. They set off to Taiwan in the hope of finding the information that will reshape Li Ying’s identity, discovering a life of incredible twists and turns, and if any of her family are still alive.

Lance Innes

Sydney senior mortgage and finance broker Lance never knew his father Al Gorcey, who abandoned his young family when Lance was just 18 months old and moved to America. But then, perhaps no one really knew the man – was he a spy, a good conman or a bad businessman? Or all three?

When Lance Googled his father, references to “plots, kidnapping” and “ammunition running” popped up. And to Lance’s amazement, recently declassified documents reveal his father, who went by a string of aliases, was a person of great interest with the FBI, and photos show he was under surveillance by ASIO before he fled Stateside.

Not only that, but Lance learns about the several families his late father abandoned around the world. 

Michelle White

 

Yamatji woman Michelle honoured the wishes of her mother Yvonne White (nee Driscoll) that she didn’t delve in to her mysterious past until she passed away. Now, some five years on, Michelle, a journalist and manager of aboriginal programs, media and PR for the Community Arts Network Western Australia, wants to know why her mother ended up in Fremantle Prison as a young woman, for some five years.

"Michelle discovers that her British-born grandfather George Driscoll led her mother astray, landing her in a children’s home at around 12 years of age. She learns that his own institutionalisation, as part of a child migration scheme from the UK to Australia in the 1920s, was the beginning of a damaging cycle of institutionalisation in her family.

But as confronting as this emotional journey is, Michelle discovers that things aren’t always what they seem.

David Field

 

David Field is one of Australia’s best-known actors with over 90 film and TV credits and an AFI award to his name. Also a director, his career spans some 30 years.

As a young man, David’s identity was called into question upon the shocking deathbed confession of his grandfather, and he’s hitting the road to find an answer to the long-standing question – is the man who raised him his biological father?

Marie-Anne Keeffe

For Perth journalist and TV executive Marie-Anne, the burden of why she was adopted out just days after her birth, and her subsequent sense of abandonment, has been “carried around like a heavy suitcase” for many years.

Though she managed to make contact with her birth mother Fran, a cruel twist of fate meant she would never meet her. Now, Marie-Anne is investigating the identity of her biological father, an Italian taxi driver, and gaining an insight into why her mother had to give her up. And she learns from a few of her mother’s friends some poignant revelations. 

Every Family Has A Secret premieres at SBS on Tuesday, 25 June at 7:30pm. The three-part series continues on Tuesday nights. Episodes will stream at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

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