Skip to main content

Beverley Ruth Dunn

24 April 1933 – 27 November 2021

The Victorian Actors’ Benevolent Trust pays tribute to former volunteer Committee of Management member Beverley Ruth Dunn, award-winning star of stage and screen, and extends deepest condolences to her family and friends, after her peaceful passing on 27th November 2021.

VABT volunteer Committee Member, Sally-Anne Upton reflects:

“We owe a great deal to Beverley for her dedicated service to our community, raising much needed funds for our charity, and for her tireless hours of volunteer service. She was a wonderful friend and colleague, and one of the kindest and gentlest people I have ever known. She was so loved by everyone. Her legacy will live on”

Beverley’s funeral service will be held at St. Andrew’s, Brighton, at 11am on Monday 6th December.

Vale Beverley Ruth Dunn

Bert Newton, AM, MBE

23 July 1938 – 30 October 2021

The Victorian Actors’ Benevolent Trust pays tribute to an Australian legend of stage and screen, with the sad passing of Bert Newton.

As a founding member of the VABT, Bert’s achievements reach far beyond his accomplishments on stage and screen. Some 63-years on, the VABT are proud to continue his legacy through the very charity he helped establish.

President of the VABT volunteer Committee of Management, Sally-Anne Upton, reflects:

“A Trailblazer in our industry has exited stage left. Bert was an incredibly talented, gorgeous soul of a man we all loved, respected and adored.

His encouragement, generosity of spirit and dedication to our community was boundless……and his memory! Our very own “Orca Whale”! But more than just our record keeper, he was always genuinely interested in everyone he encountered, and never forgot the subtle details.

Bert, how do we begin to thank you for taking the VABT from crayons to perfume? All of us within this wonderful industry, and across Australia, owe a great deal to you, and you will be enormously missed. But your legacy will live on in all of us for generations to come.”

The VABT extends its deepest condolences to Patti, Lauren, Matthew, family and friends on their tremendous loss.

Vale Bert Newton, AM, MBE

Mark Eugene Rowe

9 October 1960 – 28 October 2018

The VABT community is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mark Rowe, who was the beloved Her Majesty’s Theatre General Manager (since 2009) and previously a Company Manager for many touring productions throughout Australia & Asia. Our hearts go out to his family and friends and also to Mike Walsh and all his colleagues who worked alongside him.

You will be greatly missed by us all. RIP Mark.

Hannah Barry

9 August 1977 – 18 June 2002 

Hannah May Barry was completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Melbourne University when she died in an accident on her motorcycle, on the way back to Melbourne from a motivational speaking tour. Hannah was a professional actor from her late teens; on television she was a guest artist in Blue Heelers, and had a minor role in State Coroner. She would have been widely seen in one of the hard-hitting ads put to air by the Transport Accident Commission, in which – ironically – she ‘died’ in a car accident on a country road.

At university she was involved in many productions, and was able to pursue her interests in scriptwriting, as well as costume and set design. Her last public role was in Split at La Mama in 2001, a two-hander written by fellow student and playwright Sivan Gabrielovich. Her acting career began at age six in a pro-am company in Hobart; her first public performance was as an alphabet block in The Velveteen Rabbit! On moving to Melbourne, she studied with the Victorian Youth Theatre and St. Martin’s. A summer study of Butoh in Brisbane brought her control of the intensity she brought to her roles.

Her friends in stand-up comedy, theatre and music banded together to raise money through a series of variety concerts, to raise funds for a bursary in her memory. This is awarded annually for a project of creative merit proposed by a Melbourne University undergraduate student. The bursary has funded many interesting and experimental works.

Tribute provided by Hannah’s mother, Maxine Barry 2017

Michael Gurr

29 October 1961 – 2 May 2017

The VABT wishes to extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Michael Gurr, playwright and political speechwriter, who died after a short illness.

Michael wrote and directed for the theatre for more than 30 years, mainly for the Malthouse Theatre (formerly the Playbox). His most successful works included Sex Diary of an Infidel, which won Victorian and NSW Premier’s Literary Awards as well as eight Green Room Awards, and The Simple Truth, produced by the Malthouse and Sydney’s Griffin Theatre and performed in Britain and South Africa.

Michael became the Melbourne Theatre Company’s youngest writer in residence in 1982, aged 20. Then in 1996 he began writing speeches for then Victorian Labor leader John Brumby, and later wrote for Steve Bracks during his time as opposition leader and premier.

Michael is survived by his siblings Mary-Anne, Susan, Belinda and Christopher, and by his longtime partner Brandon Jones.

Jan Friedel

14 September 1947 – 12 January 2017

Actor, Singer & Political Organiser Extraordinaire! Jan died peacefully on 12th January 2017. Dear mother of Stefan and Bruno Friedel, sister of Robert Fordham, niece, cousin & aunt to many others. Friend of the Performing Arts scene & locally loved.

We will miss you.

Frederick (Fred) Henry Parslow

14 August 1932 – 26 January 2017

Fred Parslow passed away peacefully on January 26, 2017 after a long illness. Fred was a corner-stone member of the Union Theatre Repertory Company (UTRC) which went on to become the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). The UTRC was truly a repertory theatrical enterprise with it’s companies playing at night while rehearsing the next play during the day. Thusly, Fred accrued literally 1000’s of stage hours playing everything from the Classics to more recently-penned works. His stand out performances at the MTC include: ‘Einstein’ (which went on to tour internationally), ‘A Fortunate Life’ and ‘Richard 2’ amongst many. He also played opposite Sir Robert Helpmann in ‘The Cobra’.

Perhaps not so well-known is the fact that, in the infancy of television, Fred shared the host’s chair of the very first live ‘Tonight’ show with Graham Kennedy, Noel Ferrier and Toni Lamond at Melbourne’s GTV 9 in Melbourne. The sketch-comedy in these shows was pioneering, edgy and skated precariously along the borders of censorship.
Fred also had an illustrious film and TV career with highlights including: Homicide, Bluey, Against The Wind, The Sullivans, The Last Wave, Alvin Purple, The Humpty Dumpty Man, Mission Top Secret.
Fred built his life with his actress wife, Joan Harris AM (dec 2016) and they had one son, Justin.

A celebration of the life and career of Frederick Henry Parslow is being held at the Union Theatre, on the campus of Melbourne University, on February 13th at 1pm.

But for now, I am sure you will all join with me in sending thoughts and love to my friend, my brother, Justin who is preparing to farewell the second of his beloved parents all too soon.

Written by Will Conyers

Helen Noonan

15 February 1948 – 1 July 2016

The VABT are sad to announce that Victorian soprano Helen Noonan passed away on Friday 1st July 2016, having made a lasting mark on both stage and screen.

Her dear friends are invited to celebrate her wonderful life. Monday 11th July at 2pm – Main Hall, Hawthorn Arts Centre,  360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn. Details of celebrations following the ceremony will be given on the day. Glitter encouraged but not compulsory!

Joan Harris

12 June 1929 – 2 September 2016

Joan Harris, long time principal of the National Theatre Drama School passed away recently. She is survived by her husband Frederick Parslow and her son Justin Harris-Parslow.

Her funeral was be held on Friday 16th September.

John Pinder

January 6 1945 – May 26 2015

Dearest John Pinder you were our trailblazer, you personally guaranteed Circus Oz got off to a flying start, gave birth to the Flying Trapeze, Last Laugh and Le Joke, which was the training ground for so many of us, institutions that launched so many of our careers. Heading up those first years of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival taking the comedy scene to another level. Believing in our talent you launched many of our overseas careers, the list goes on!

RIP, you’re travelling in good company to Heaven, at the moment with Bob Hornery, Joan Kirner and now you. Three great BIG losses we have to bear, but with Lynda Gibson (Gibo) greeting you on the mic…let Heaven’s Greenroom party begin…catered with the Last Laugh legendary Chocolate Mousse!

On behalf of The Victorian Actors’ Benevolent Trust and our extended community, we thank you darling and we send our condolences to your dear family at this very sad time.

Sally-Anne Upton

Margaret Cameron

20 January 1955 – 20 October 2014

It is with immense sadness that we write to let you know that Margaret Cameron passed away on Monday 20 October. She died at home, as she had ardently wished; her son and other family were with her.

John Sumner 

27  May 1924 – 24 May 2013

The VABT was deeply saddened to hear that John Sumner AO CBE passed away on Friday 24 May 2013 at age 88 following a brief illness. MTC’s 1953 founder and longest-serving Artistic Director, Sumner championed Australian theatre voices with passionate professionalism. Our thoughts are with his two daughters, family and friends.

Read today’s The Age article about Sumner here:

Robert (Rob) Lyon

15/04/1956 – 02/09/2014

Last week we sent off our dear friend Rob Lyon, a friend and collaborator with many in these pages. Rob was a graduate of the VCA and was lucky to be involved in Australian theatre at that time when we were graced with so many permanent ensembles. Being both a brilliant actor and collaborator Rob naturally became a loved member of Salamanca, Barnstorm, Arena and worked independently for MTC, Anthill and on stages across Australia. For the past ten years Rob battled Parkinson’s disease. He never lost his wicked sense of humour, his trademark laugh or the sensitivity that made him such a wonderful artist. For Rob the show went on, and he remained a devoted friend to so many of us. He and his wife Victoria and his two boys Joe-Henry and Gabriel continued to embrace life and adventure despite his increasing disability. Sometimes words feel so inadequate when describing such a spirit. The hall in Yarraville was packed for Rob’s “bump-out” and despite being a sad occasion on so many levels, it was also a genuine celebration of a life that never looked like ending. Rob always reminded us what an actor really is – a member of the tribe who tells the stories, who shows us who we are, what we might be and how we might become. He was also one of the funniest men I’ve known! It’s worth mentioning that I’ve never attended a funeral with so many laughs. And perhaps that’s the ultimate tribute to the man. He was always just a little above the drama, but playing along. A man who loved family, friends, audiences, nature – he was in fact that rare thing….. a happy man. We all miss you Rob, and on behalf of the rest of the cast – see you in the green room after. Love and respect.

Written by Peter Haughton