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Prisoner actor Mary Ward dead at 106

The Guardian
The Guardian
Mary Ward as Mum in Prisoner. Photograph: Fremantle

Veteran Australian screen and stage actor Mary Ward has died at the age of 106.

Her family said she died peacefully on Monday morning in a Melbourne aged care facility.

Ward was widely known for her roles in soap operas, but her most memorable character was probably Jeanette Brooks – known as Mum – on Prisoner (titled Prisoner: Cell Block H in the UK and the US) from 1979 to 1981.

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She also appeared in Sons and Daughters, Neighbours, Young Doctors, Blue Heelers and A Country Practice – but it was Prisoner that brought her the most recognition.

“I remember sitting down with the cast to read through the scripts for the first time and there was a sense that we were going to do something quite groundbreaking,” she told the Herald Sun in 2016 , when interviewed for her 101st birthday.

“It was a very exciting project to be part of. People still watch it to this day.”

In the 1970s she joined the Melbourne Theatre Company, performing in various productions over the following decade.

Ward retired from acting 11 years ago at the age of 95.

The Fremantle-born actor studied acting in Perth and then London, where she formed a friendship Lionel Logue, the speech therapist to King George VI depicted in the 2010 film The King’s Speech.

She returned to Australia when the second world war broke out, becoming one of the ABC’s first female radio announcers, and earning the title of the “Force’s sweetheart” with her broadcasts to armed forces in the Pacific.

Her nephew Mark Breheny told TV Tonight : “She really was very much ahead of her time in the prewar period – an independent, career-minded woman who set off overseas on her own to make her mark. And that she surely did.”

Breheny said that Covid-19 lockdowns had restricted family visits to her aged care facility over the past year.

“She led a remarkable life and spent her final years much loved and supported by family and friends, not to mention the occasional Prisoner fan, many of whom who still wrote to her,” he said.

Comments / 17

Matthew Ward

she must have obeyed the 4th commandment of The ten commandments very well 🙏🕊


I wonder how she felt I mean does anybody really want to live to be a hundred I guess a good option is if you start feeling bad start doing some really good drugs


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