Australian actress Carol Burns passes away, aged 68

Sad news for the Australian arts community today with the passing of one of our most versatile and acclaimed actors, Carol Burns, after a battle with cancer.

Carol Burns
Founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company, Carol Burns

Burns’ partner of 36 years, composer and musician Alan Lawrence was at her bedside as she passed at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital earlier today (22 December).

Famous for her portrayal of Franky Doyle in the TV series Prisoner, Carol Burns began her career in Queensland as a founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company in 1969. Born in Brisbane in 1947, Carol attended Milton State Primary School where her initiation into the world of theatre began with elocution classes in 1958.

She has been a major contributor to the success of the QTC, company appearing in productions including The Female of the Species, Rabbit Hole, Black Comedy, Private Lives, The Real Inspector Hound, A Conversation, Bill & Mary, The Clean House, Design for Living, and most recently, the lead role in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days as part of QTC’s 2015 season, for which she received rave reviews.

Burns also worked with most other major theatre companies in the country throughout her career, including Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Nimrod Theatre Company and the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Aside from her portrayal of lesbian bikie Franky Doyle in Prisoner (her character attained cult status resulting in her winning a TV week Logie for Best Lead Actress), Burns also appeared in such iconic Australian television series as The Day of the Roses, The Love of Lionel’s Life, Blue Heelers, Reef Doctors, Small Claims, Carson’s Law, Flipper, All the Rivers Run, Fire, Medivac and Pig in a Poke. 

After Prisoner Carol worked in the UK appearing in West End and regional productions, and had guest roles including The Bill, Taggart, Casualty, Heartbeat and Hannay.

An Associate Artist of Queensland Theatre Company and Queensland Arts Council/Artslink; Patron of The Independent Theatre (Eumundi) and Fame Theatre School (Brisbane); a member of Actors Equity since 1973; President of Actors Equity Queensland; and a member of the National Performance Committee, Burns also served as Vice-President of the Actors’ & Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund (Qld) Inc., the registered charity which assists performers in need.

Details of a special arts industry memorial for Carol Burns (1947 – 2015) will be announced shortly.

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