Friday, October 2, 2009

Ruth Cracknell

Ruth Cracknell.

The name sounds familiar, but probably because I keep seeing her name when I look at my list of people.

Let me go and find out who she is.

She's an actress!

This is funny because as I was googling, I suddenly wished she WAS an actress. I thought how about how I was sort of in the mood to do an actress. But I figured she wasn't an actress because lately I've been doing more heroic type people.....doctors who save eyes, nuns who build schools in the outback, indigenous Australians who fight for their people, men who carry injured soldiers on the backs of donkeys.....


Baby Ruth was born 6 July 1925 in Maitland New South Wales. I know someone else I've researched is from Maitland. Do I remember who? No. Lord Wiki says H.V Evatt was from there. Maybe that's who I'm thinking about.

Cracknell and her family didn't spend too much time in Maitland. When she was four, they moved to Sydney. Their new home was only about two hours away from their old home.

Cracknell went to North Sydney Girl's High School. This is the school that Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts went to. But they would have been there MUCH later than Cracknell.

When Cracknell graduated, she worked for the Ku-ring-gai council as a clerk. I've written about this Ku-ring-gai thing before, but once again, I forgot what person it's related to. I shall go and check. Otherwise my curiosity shall imprison my brain.

I did a search of my blog. It was Grace Cossington-Smith who had the connection. Her family had a home on Ku-ring-gai Avenue.

When Cracknell was seventeen she went to the theater with a friend. It was then that she decided she wanted to be an actress. She enrolled in drama school. Was this before or during her time working as a clerk?

Cracknell began her acting career on the radio. Lord Wiki says that by 1946 she was doing five radio plays a week. She would have been about twenty-one then.

In 1948 she joined something called the John Alden Company. With this theatrical group, she performed in Shakespeare plays. I'm guessing this John Alden Company is no longer with us. When I googled, I ended up finding an insurance company. The Australian Dictionary of Biography has information about the theatrical John Alden. He was an actor, director, and teacher. He sounds pretty interesting and important. I'll add him to my list.

When Cracknell was in her late twenties, she left Australia to spend two years in London. I think spending time in Europe is a requirement for Australian celebrities.

When she was thirty-two, she got married. The lovely couple ended up having three kids.

I'm going to leave the film and television stuff for IMDb. I'll end my Lord Wiki time by saying Cracknell died in 2002. She left behind three children and seven grandchildren.

According to IMDb, her first screen role was in Smiley Gets a Gun. This movie came out in 1958. Cracknell would have been around thirty-three then. The movie was filmed in New South Wales, so she didn't have to go too far.

Here's a video of a woman named Olive watching Smiley Gets a Gun. There's a lot of interesting videos up on YouTube.

Oh! Olive was the woman who was known as the world's oldest blogger. I think I remember hearing about her. Here's her blog, and here's an ABC news report about Olive. She sounds like an interesting woman. I'm going to add her to my list. I'd like to spend a day with her.

Back to Cracknell though. We can't forget about her.

In 1962, she did a ten episode TV series called The Patriots. It was about William Charles Wentworth! History stuff. I wouldn't mind watching that. I wonder if it was any good.

In 1963, Cracknell was in a four part TV series called Smugglers Beware. It was the first children's program made by the ABC. At least that's what IMDb says. Should I believe them? The screenwriter of Smugglers Beware went on to eventually write the screenplay for My Brilliant Career.

I'm skipping a few shows..... There's not much information on them, and they didn't seem to provide Cracknell with very significant roles.

I'll stop at Fiends of the Family from 1968. I'm not sure what you'd call this. It seems to be a one time program, but it was only an hour long. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a fiction program like that. Cracknell seems to have been one of the main stars of it.

I'm trying to put Cracknell's career into historical context. What I've learned with previous research is that the Australian film industry was practically dead in the 1950's and 1960's...maybe even before that? I forgot. Anyway, it was revived with Whitlam as Prime Minister in the early 1970's.

Cracknell was probably limited in what she could do. There was not much film going on. I guess that's why she did more television. Although in the 1960's, she didn't seem to be doing a lot of TV. Maybe she was still doing theater as well.

From 1969-1971, she did guest appearances on a few TV shows. There doesn't seem to be anything that substantial.

In 1972, she had a role in a TV movie based on a Norman Lindsay novel. This was The Cousin from Fiji.

In 1973 she had a role in Seven Little Australians. I've heard of the book. It's one of the classics of Australian children's literature. I'd like to read it someday. Cracknell's role in this doesn't seem very substantial. I'm waiting for this woman to have her big break. When will it happen?

Okay. I think I have it. In 1978, she starred in The Night, the Prowler. It was written by Patrick White. I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet read any of his stuff. The movie seems to be a dark comedy. It's about a suburban woman attacked by a prowler. Then she becomes a prowler herself. I don't think Cracknell played the women. She played a character with the same last name as the woman. I'm guessing then that she plays the victim's mother.

She could be the sister.....

The movie earned Cracknell an AFI nomination for best actress. So I think yeah...this was her big break in screen stuff. She'd be about fifty-three then. So her career blossomed more in her later years.

That same year, Cracknell also had a role in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. This was based on one of Thomas Keneally's novels.

Here's the trailer for the movie. The video has some very weird stuff before the trailer. What's up with that? I don't know. I'm not sure if Cracknell was in the trailer.

In 1982, Cracknell was in a movie called The Best of Friends.

Okay. I'm having some weird synchronosity here. Yesterday I was watching old Australian TV stuff, on YouTube, while exercising. I came across a show from the mid 1990's called The Ferals. I watched a tiny bit, and then read about it. I looked at some of the names associated with the film...trying to see if there was anyone I'd want to write about. I came across the name David Collins. I looked him up and found out he was the star of the Upside Down Show. He's the half of the duo that I didn't research. I didn't even recognize his name. What can I say. We haven't watched the show in awhile.

Anyway, a little later I looked at my Statcounter and saw that someone used the keyword David Collins interview umbies to find my blog. No one has ever come to my blog looking for David Collins before. I really don't have many people reading my entry on his partner in crime Shane Dundas either.

I thought that was a strange coincidence, and figured it might mean something. I tend to think every coincidence must mean something. I just can rarely figure out what that is.

For some reason, I got the idea it might have something to do with a street. Collins Street. That seemed significant. I'm not sure why. I wasn't sure where and when in my life I encountered a Collins Street. I looked up Collins Street for Texas. There's one about thirty minutes from us. I think my family sometimes meets around there for dinner. There's a Collins Street in Surrey Hills. I might have passed it, but I don't remember doing anything exciting around there. There was a Collins Street on my college campus. It was near the confederate cemetery we'd sometimes hang out in.

Am I getting some message about one of these streets? I don't know.

Then just now I followed the link for the director of The Best of Friends. The guy did some acting too. In a movie, he played a character named David Collins.

It's just weird that I came across that.

David Collins synchronosity. Is it all just a random coincidence, or does it mean something. It probably means something...VERY important. But I'm dense, and I'll probably never figure it out.

In 1983, Cracknell played Margaret Whitlam in the TV miniseries The Dismissal. Who played Gough? It was a guy named Max Phipps. The actors who played Malcolm Fraser and John Kerr won Logie Awards. Phipps and Cracknell did not.

In 1986, Cracknell was in Alice to Nowhere. That sounds familar to me. It was about villains in the outback. Here's a clip from it. I don't know if the weird editing comes from the movie itself, or the person who posted the clip.

In 1989, Cracknell was in Kokoda Crescent. It's about drug dealers. The movie earned Cracknell an AFI nomination for best actress.

Also in 1989, Cracknell was in a movie with Nicole Kidman. Emerald City. Did I mention this the day I wrote about Kidman? I don't remember. Cracknell plays an agent in the movie...the agent of the main character, who is a screenwriter.

In 1992, Cracknell was in a TV production of the Oscar Wilde play The Importance of Being Earnest. Cracknell played Lady Bracknell. Well, that sure rhymes!

A character in the play has a imaginary friend named Bunbury. That's funny because there's a town in Western Australia called Bunbury.

I think 1984 is when Cracknell got the role that she's most famous for. I caught this when I did a quick glance of her career on Lord Wiki's site. She played Maggie Beare on a TV comedy called Mother and Son. The show lasted for ten years, so Cracknell would have been on the show from when she was fifty-nine to sixty-nine. The character she played was a senile woman.

For the show, Cracknell won two Logies. They were won in 1993 and 1994. That's towards the end of the show's run. I wonder why it took her so long to get an award.

Here's a clip of the show. I finally get to see Cracknell in action. I don't think she was in any of other of the videos I've watched. That Maggie Beare is a wild and crazy women.

Lord Wiki says she has Alzheimer's. The show was an attempt to look at the disease in a humorous yet poignant way. I guess it succeeded.

In 1994, Cracknell was in a movie called Spider and Rose. Here's the trailer.

Cracknell looks like the woman I saw in the clip from The Ferals. It would be weird if that was her because I don't think I had seen Cracknell before. But when I saw the clip, I thought the woman looked familar.

In 1996, Cracknell was in Lilian's Story. I read that book. It's by Kate Grenville. I didn't love the book. It wasn't one of my favorites. But I didn't think it was horrible.

I found it to be very depressing.

Cracknell plays Lillian in her later years. Toni Collette plays her in her younger years. I can totally imagine Toni Collette in that role.

Here's something I didn't know. The story is loosely based on a real eccentric woman named Bea Miles. I have to add her to my list.

Here's a clip from the movie.

In 1997, Cracknell was in a kangaroo movie. Joey. That's an original title. It makes me think of that children's book Joey Runs Away. Jack used to love the cartoon version of the story.

After Joey, Cracknell didn't do anything for seven years. Then she did narration for a short film called The Scree. This was her last screen thing.

The trivia page of IMDb doesn't have anything that profound or exciting....except that her memoir is titled Biased Memoirs. That's a cute title. She also wrote another memoir regarding her husband's illness and death. This was called Journey From Venice.

I think Cracknell is the first Australian actor or actress I've written about who didn't end up coming to work in America. I'm trying to think of whether there has been anyone else. I'm sure there ARE other actors who stayed in Australia. I just don't think I've written about them....yet.

Ah. I just did my research. Cracknell is NOT the woman that guest starred in that clip from The Ferals. It was a woman named Cornelia Francis. I'm glad I got that cleared up.

Here's a SMH obituary for Cracknell.

When she was in England, she was offered a position in a whole different career....the importing and exporting business. She didn't take that path.

She received a Member of the Order of Australia thingie in 1980. I don't think this could have been for the few appearances she made on TV. I'm guessing it was more for her theater stuff. The Mother and Son show hadn't come out yet. I usually ignore the whole Member of the Order of Australia thing. I don't know why. Maybe it's my pro-Republic stance. And it seems like almost everyone gets this award. Who isn't a Member of the Order of Australia? Huh? No, I'm joking. There's a lot of people who are not. But it does seem like I see this award mentioned by Lord Wiki a lot.

This 1986 SMH article says that Cracknell was against the monorail being built in Sydney.

I'm not really finding much exciting stuff on Google. I'm going to see if there's any more interesting videos on YouTube.

Here's a community service ad against tranquilizers. The basic message is that emotions are part of life. We don't need to avoid them with drugs...or at least tranquilizer drugs. What drugs would be included in this? Would anti-depressants count?

I don't think so. Lord Wiki says a tranquilizer is a sedative. In America, we have Valium. I think that's one of the most popular sedatives. I'm not sure if Australia has something like that....and what it's called. I guess it could be called Valium, but I think usually we have different names for our drugs.

In movies and TV, when someone goes through a horrible trauma, they're often pushed to take a tranquilizer. I never understand that. What is the point of being sedated? Something horrible happened. The person is going to have to face it someday. I wonder if scenes like that happen in real life. Probably.

Here's another bit from Mother and Son. It is quite brilliant--the way they can take something tragic and depressing, and make it somewhat funny.


  1. Good one ... Ruth is/was a true Aussie treasure ... her writing was wonderful too. xo

  2. Redness,

    Yeah, I think she'll always be seen as a treasure : )

  3. Ruth was wonderful. Try youtube Mother and Son oranges in the search and then The Funeral Pt 1/3 or maybe just Mother and Son The Funeral will work. We rolled on the floor laughing the first time we saw it on tv. Scene 3.50 to 7.20

  4. Andrew,

    I'm watching it now. Maggie reminds me a little bit of my dad, and he doesn't even have Alzheimer's. He has been known to forget which relative is dead. And I can kind of picture him waving from a funeral car. The oranges falling into the grave...totally something that would happen to him.

    I'm going to watch part II now....

  5. I like part 2 even more than part 1.