Australia

Tributes pour in for beloved Australian actor Cornelia Frances, 77

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Australian actor Cornelia Frances has died at the age of 77.

Veteran actress Cornelia Frances, who portrayed some of Australian television's most iconic characters, has died after a battle with cancer.

The 77-year-old's death was announced by the Seven Network on Tuesday.

Frances is best known for playing Morag Bellingham on Home and Away, Sister Scott on The Young Doctors and hosting The Weakest Link.

An undated handout photo of (L to R:) Judy Nunn, Ray Meagher, Cornelia Frances and Norman Coburn as they are reunited on Home and Away
An undated handout photo of (L to R:) Judy Nunn, Ray Meagher, Cornelia Frances and Norman Coburn as they are reunited on Home and Away
AAP

In a social media tribute, her son Lawrence posted a photo of his mother sleeping in a hospital bed beside a plush toy.

"A very personal photo of my mum during one of her resting moments, she is so peaceful, soft and serene," he wrote on Monday morning.

"I truly love this woman."

The Seven Network said Frances died surrounded by family and friends.

"Her on screen presence inspired a generation of actors. This gift was coupled with an ability to bring a sense of dignity and presence into each room she entered," a company spokesperson said.

"Her energy and character will be missed."

In January Frances revealed she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer 12 months earlier.

"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," she told
Newscorp.

She told Nine's A Current Affair earlier this year that she loved her time in the industry.

"I've always played the strong ladies," she said.

"I'm going to fight it [the cancer], by God I am. That 60 years in the industry... it's been a wonderful road and I've loved every minute of it. I've loved every soapie I've been on."

Her mother also died from cancer and the actress donated every year to cancer charities.

Home and Away co-star Ray Meagher, who plays Alf, said the cast held a moment of silence for Frances on set on Tuesday morning.

"Cornie was an incredibly loved and valued member of our cast over many, many years," he told News Corp.

Actor Noel Hodda, who worked with Frances on Sons and Daughters as well as a play that toured England, also paid tribute.

"A stalwart of the Oz entertainment industry ... A great character who will be greatly missed," the actor tweeted.

Born Cornelia Frances Zulver on April 7, 1941 in Liverpool, England, she began her acting career in the UK.

But it wasn't until after she moved to Australia in 1970 that her career flourished.

She played the hard-as-nails hospital enforcer Sister Grace Scott on the popular TV soap The Young Doctors, where she remained until 1978.

After a string of TV spots, Frances then starred in the comedy Kingswood Country before taking on the role of Barbara Armstrong in Sons and Daughters between 1982 and 1986.

Two years later she was cast as Morag Bellingham in Home and Away - a role she played on-and-off for almost 25 years.

Between seasons, Frances also hosted the Australian version of the quiz show The Weakest Link, starred in the series Always Greener, and provided the voice of the tortoise in the children's series Magic Mountain.

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