R.I.P. Wendy Hughes, Australian actress

R.I.P. Wendy Hughes, Australian actress

Australian actress Wendy Hughes has died at the age of 61, after a bout with cancer. Having established herself on the stage and TV through the 1970s, Hughes became a major onscreen presence in the booming Australian film movement of the late ‘70s and early 1980s through her roles in Phillip Noyce’s Newsfront (1978), Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career (1979), Paul Cox’s Lonely Hearts (1982), and Careful, He Might Hear You (1983), for which she won the Australian Film Institute’s Best Actress Award. That same year, she won her second Logie—the Australian television industry’s equivalent of the Emmy—for Best Supporting Actress for the miniseries Return To Eden. (Her previous win was for the 1976 series Power Without Glory.)

International recognition led to offers from Hollywood, but most of the American films and TV shows that Hughes did were less distinguished than the best work she did closer to home. She was in John G. Avildsen’s Happy New Year (1987) and the Cold War paranoia, “post-Commie takeover” miniseries Amerika (1987), played Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ mother in the 1991 miniseries A Woman Named Jackie (featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the teenage version of Onassis), and had roles in Wild Orchid 2: Two Shades Of Blue (1991) and Princess Caraboo (1994). She also had a recurring role on the first season of Homicide: Life On The Street as a medical examiner who’s romanced by Ned Beatty, and played one of Captain Picard’s old flames on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

She was in Bruce Beresford’s Paradise Road (1997), and starred in the Australian TV series Snowy River: The McGregor Saga and State Coroner. Bryan Brown, who worked with her in Newsfront, announced the news of her death to the audience attending the play Traveling North, and led them in giving her a posthumous standing ovation.

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