(15 September 1933 – 8 January 2010) was an
actor with roles in film, theatre, radio, television and
ballet over a career spanning 52 years.
1 Early life and education
2 Acting career
5 Personal life
8 External links
Early life and education
She was born Monica Cresswell Wood in
A. Harold Wood and medical doctor Olive Wood (née O'Reilly).
She had 5 brothers and sisters, including Dr
Elizabeth Wood-Ellem and
Rev. Dr H. D'Arcy Wood. The family moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1937
– Monica was three and a half and spoke no English – and shortly
afterwards to Melbourne, where her father became principal of
Methodist Ladies' College (MLC) and her mother his informal deputy.
Monica attended MLC, where she received her only formal drama training
with speech teacher Dorothy Dwyer, and went on to study French at the
University of Melbourne, graduating in 1959 with a BA.[citation
Monica was a member of the Melbourne University Dramatic Club where
she adopted the stage name Maughan. She made her stage debut opposite
Barry Humphries in Ben Hecht's fast-paced satire The Front Page in
April 1954. While studying part-time, she worked as a secretary at
St Ives Hospital in Melbourne. In 1960, she returned to MLC to
Monica Maughan launched her professional career with the Union Theatre
Repertory Company (UTRC) in 1957 playing Capulat in Jean Anouilh's
romantic comedy Ring Round the Moon at Union Theatre, Parkville. Her
first lead role came that same year in Beauty and the Beast.
The UTRC, Australia's first professional theatre company, became the
Theatre Company (MTC) in 1968. Maughan appeared in more
plays for that flagship company than any other actor. She also
directed 2 plays for the MTC. Her last MTC performance was in the
premiere production of David Williamson's Scarlett O'Hara at the
Crimson Parrot in 2008.
J.C. Williamson productions in the early 1960s, Maughan spent
1963–66 working in the UK, where she appeared in various West End
productions – including stepping in for
Moira Lister when the latter
Maughan appeared in at least 7 plays in her first year back in
Australia, most of them lead roles, and throughout the late sixties
was hailed for her stage performances, such at the title role in The
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1968), directed by MTC founder, John Sumner
(theatre director) (1924-2013). In 1971, she won the Melbourne Theatre
Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of pregnant spinster Anna
Bowers in Donald Howarth's Three Months Gone. Coincidentally, Maughan
was three months pregnant at the end of the play's run.
She worked with almost every major theatre company in Australia,
The Cherry Orchard
The Cherry Orchard and Alan Bennett's Habeas
Corpus for the Queensland
Theatre Company in 1978, and the role of
A Hard God produced by the State
Theatre Company of South
Australia and Tennessee Williams'
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Sydney
Theatre Company, both in 1981.
Her best-known stage role may have been as Miss Prism in the MTC's The
Importance of Being Earnest. The production, co-starring Frank Thring,
Ruth Cracknell and Geoffrey Rush, was so popular that it toured
Australia between 1988 and 1992, and was televised by the ABC. In
1999, she created the role of Suzanne Beckett in Justin Fleming's
Burnt Piano at Belvoir Company B, and demonstrated a command of
classical piano played live in each performance. In 2003, she starred
in Inheritance by Hannie Rayson.
Early television roles in Crawford's dramas led to ongoing television
parts that made Maughan a recognisable face around Australia,
including prim secretary Jean Ford in the first year of The Box
(1974–75) and downtrodden prisoner Pat O'Connell for five months in
women's-prison drama Prisoner in 1979–80. Working extensively with
ABC TV and radio over nearly 50 years, Maughan received an AFI Award
and a Silver
Logie Award for her role as Monica McHugh in the ABC's
black comedy mini-series,
The Damnation of Harvey McHugh (1994).
Monica Maughan extended her repertoire to include non-dancing roles
Australian Ballet, including Doreen's mother in The
Sentimental Bloke (2002) and Effie's mother in
La Sylphide (2005).
Her 20 or so feature films include
A City's Child (1971), Road to
Nhill (1997), Crackerjack (2002) and Strange Bedfellows (2004), plus a
number of films by Dutch-
Australian director Paul Cox. Her last film
role was in Blessed, directed by
Ana Kokkinos in 2009, and described
by 3RRR film critic
Brian MacFarlane as Maughan's best ever.
She did not live to play the title role in Belvoir Company B's Gwen in
Purgatory in 2010, a part written for her by Tommy Murphy and directed
by Neil Armfield.
Erik Kuttner Award for Acting (1968) for the title role in The Prime
of Miss Jean Brodie (MTC)
Erik Kuttner Award for Best Actress (1971) as Anna Bowers in Three
Months Gone (MTC)
AFI Award (Hoyts Prize) for Best Performance (1971) for the lead role
in A City’s Child (dir. Brian Kavanagh)
Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actress (1983) as Mollie in Gulls
Television Society of Australia Commendation for performance by an
Actress in a supporting role in a mini-series (1985) for her role in
Flying Doctors (Crawford's)
Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actress (1987) as Mme Arcati in
Blithe Spirit (MTC)
Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actress (1990) as Miss Prism in
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest (MTC)
Logie Award Most Outstanding Actress (1995) as Monica McHugh in
The Damnation of Harvey McHugh (ABC)
AFI Award for Best Actress in a TV Drama (1995) as Monica McHugh in
The Damnation of Harvey McHugh (ABC)
Green Room Award for Best Actress (1998) for her role in Tear from a
Glass Eye (Playbox)
Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress (2008) as the
teacher Mrs Walkham in The Toy Symphony (Belvoir St Company B)
Maughan was always coy about her age and many sources gave her year of
birth as 1938. When celebrating 50 years of professional acting in
2007, Maughan said she was "20 or 21" on her first acting tour in 1954
and admitted she "always lied about my age".
Maughan's first marriage was to Brian Essex, then a medical student,
in December 1954, with her father officiating. Her second marriage,
in January 1968, was to Melbourne solicitor Rowland Ball; the
couple had three daughters.
Maughan died of complications from cancer at the Peter MacCallum
Cancer Centre in Melbourne on 8 January 2010.
^ a b Carman, Gerry (9 January 2010). "'Wonderful' thespian a real
trouper". Sydney Morning Herald.
Monica Maughan dies". ABC News. 8 January 2010.
^ "Students in tense play". The Age. 23 April 1954.
^ "Fry Play". The Age. 16 April 1955.
^ "Wide Interests Among Graduates". The Age. 25 February 1960.
^ a b "Winning Monica lives the part". The Age. 6 March 1971.
^ "A lady never reveals her age". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 November
^ "When The Bells Peal Out". The Age. 31 December 1954.
Monica Maughan on IMDb
Monica Maughan – Stage acting credits
"The Importance of Being Earnest" – (information and photos):
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AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Monica Maughan (1971)
Jacki Weaver (1972)
Judy Morris (1973)
Julie Dawson (1974/1995)
Helen Morse (1976)
Pat Bishop (1977)
Angela Punch McGregor (1978)
Michele Fawdon (1979)
Tracy Mann (1980)
Judy Davis (1981)
Noni Hazlehurst (1982)
Wendy Hughes (1983)
Angela Punch McGregor (1984)
Noni Hazlehurst (1985)
Judy Davis (1986)
Judy Davis (1987)
Nadine Garner (1988)
Meryl Streep (1989)
Catherine McClements (1990)
Sheila Florance (1991)
Lisa Harrow (1992)
Holly Hunter (1993)
Toni Collette (1994)
Jacqueline McKenzie (1995)
Judy Davis (1996)
Pamela Rabe (1997)
Deborah Mailman (1998)
Sacha Horler (1999)
Pia Miranda (2000)
Kerry Armstrong (2001)
Maria Theodorakis (2002)
Toni Collette (2003)
Abbie Cornish (2004)
Cate Blanchett (2005)
Emily Barclay (2006)
Joan Chen (2007)
Monic Hendrickx (2008)
Frances O'Connor (2009)
Jacki Weaver (2010)
Judy Davis (2011)
Deborah Mailman (2012)
Rose Byrne (2013)
Sarah Snook (2014)
Kate Winslet (2015)
Odessa Young (2016)