Saturday, January 2, 2010

Maggie Kirkpatrick

On July 10, I added a huge amount of names to my list of Australians I want to research. On July 11, I added only one name. That person was Maggie Kirkpatrick. I don't know why I added her to the list. I don't even remember who she is. But I shall soon find out.

Well, it looks like she's fairly obscure. Lord Wiki doesn't even know who she is. He doesn't have anything to say about her. Oh well. I shall have to do this post without him.

It looks like Maggie Kirkpatrick is from the cast of Wicked. She plays Madame Morrible, the villian of the story. has a small biography about her. She was born on 21 January 1941. Her sixty-ninth birthday is about a month away.

The town she was born in is Albury. That place is meaningful to me in a kind of sad way. My friend was supposed to come up from Ballarat to meet us in Sydney. Then she got sick on the drive up. She ended up staying in Albury until she was well enough to drive. Then she returned to Ballarat. So yeah. That's what I think of when I see the name Albury. It's a sad memory, but I'm thankful my friend had a friend in Albury that could help take care of her.

When Kirkpatrick was a baby, her dad died in the war. Her mom was left to raise two kids by herself.

At some point, the family moved to Newcastle. From an early age, Kirkpatrick loved acting. She did school plays. At the age of fourteen, she dropped out of school. She hadn't liked it. That would have been in 1955. I wonder how common dropping out was in those days. In the 1800's and early 1900's, it doesn't seem unusual at all to me. But my guess is that in the 1950's, it would be more unusual.

I wonder when the stay-at-school movement became big.   I mean...earlier in history, I don't think it people were frowned upon for leaving school to work on the farm or get a job elsewhere. Maybe it was the same in the 1950's. I don't know. I've been searching on Google for statistics and stuff, but I'm not really sure exactly what I'm looking for.

Anyway, said that Kirkpatrick's mom signed her up for drama lessons. She felt that might keep Kirkpatrick out of trouble.

Some years later, Kirkpatrick got her first job acting. This was with John Alden's Shakespeare Company. Something must have gone wrong, because then Kirkpatrick quit acting and had a variety of other jobs. She worked in restaurants and hotels. She was a receptionist in a doctor's office. She worked in a dress shop......

Maybe she didn't quit acting because something went wrong. Maybe she still loved acting, but realized she might not make enough money from it. doesn't really explain.

While working and not acting, Kirkpatrick fell in love. She got married when she was about twenty-two. The lovely couple moved to Sydney. Once they were there, she decided to return to acting.

Kirkpatrick did two plays. Then she quit again. This time it was for maternity leave. When her daughter Caitlin was a little older, Kirkpatrick went back to acting. She did more plays, and then some TV and movie stuff.

Eventually, Kirkpatrick and her husband got divorced. Now she has two grandchildren. says the AIDS cause is very important to her. She's been involved with that for a long time. The Sydney Gay community gave her something called The DIVA award.

This British website has some stuff about Kirkpatrick. They say she played a mean warden on Prisoner. I wonder if she's the one I saw when I wrote about the woman from Kath and Kim. Crap, I forgot her name. Let me go see......

Jane Turner!

Okay yes. I'm looking at my old post. The mean warden I saw was Mrs. Ferguson. And she WAS played by Maggie Kirkpatrick. I was thinking maybe that's why I added her to the list. But I wrote about Turner in November. I posted about Anthony Callea on July 15. I usually write posts ahead, so I can bet I ran into Kirkpatrick's name on July 11. It all makes sense.

Back to the British website.....

Well, in a minute. I'm surprised Lord Wiki didn't write about her. I thought she had just been an obscure theater actress. But why would he not write about a star of a huge TV show. Maybe he does have an entry, and I missed it?

Well, no. I just checked again. I don't see anything. That's kind of surprising.

Okay, back to the British website...for real this time.

They say when Kirkpatrick started acting again in Sydney, she worked at the New Theater. This so-called new theater has been around since 1932. Why do people use new in a name like that? It's not going to stay new forever. It's like that New School in NYC. When I lived there, I literally thought it was a new school. My sister got her first email address around the time she got married. She used the word newlywed in her screenname. She STILL has that email address, and she's been married for over eleven years.

When Kirkpatrick returned to acting after her maternity leave, she appeared in the movie version of Pirates of Penzance. It was called The Pirate Movie. According to IMDb, this came out in 1982. Kilpatrick would have been about forty-one when the movie was made. I kind of remember that movie being out, but I don't think I saw it. I never realized it was Australian....probably because the two lead stars (Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins) were American. The director was British. Maybe it wouldn't be classified as an Australian movie then. Maybe it was just filmed in Australia.

Some television producers in Australia saw The Pirate Movie. They had been looking for an actress to play the mean warden in their TV Show. They liked Maggie Kirkpatrick, and that's how she ended up on Prisoner. She had actually already auditioned for the show earlier. Prisoner had started three years before the pirate thing. Kirkpatrick had gone for the role of Vera Bennett, but lost. Well, she got a role on the show eventually.

Oh, this is kind of funny. Lord Wiki says, that on the show, Ferguson was the warden who replaced Bennett. I think it's neat that Kirkpatrick auditioned, didn't get the role, and then ended up playing the character that replaced the other character.

Lord Wiki says Ferguson was....

Oh! Now I see! He DOES have an entry on her. I figured it would be weird for him to talk about the character, but not the actress. What happened? I had been spelling her name totally wrong this whole time. I spelled it as Kilpatrick. That actually goes beyond a spelling mistake. I had her name totally wrong. The pathetic thing is I've been reading her name multiple times while doing the post, and still writing it wrong. I think it's because I read using the whole-word method rather than phonetically. The whole word method DOES help me read fast, and I like that. But every so often, I miss a crucial detail that gets me very lost.

Anyway, and the British site still talked to me despite my mistake. Lord Wiki was a bit less forgiving. But now we're reunited. I think I already got most of the information he provides, so I'll skip him a bit. I am reading what he has to say about Ferguson though. She was a lesbian. I wonder if that caused any problems or controversy. Certain populations are not often seen on the television. So when they're played in a negative light, I think it can be....I don't know what word I'm thinking of. Maybe offensive?

For example, there's not a lot of homeschooling people in the media. We're pretty rare. The few times I've seen homeschooled characters, they're usually negative portrayals. That offends me because I know some people have negative stereotypes of homeschoolers. The media plays into their preconceived ideas. I would find it much LESS bothersome, if there were many fictional homeschooled characters out there. Then a few negative examples would be fine. There are always bad apples in every group.

If there are many lesbian characters on TV, I'd say no problem in having a few evil ones. If there's very few lesbians on TV, and one of the few is an evil bitch.....I might find that somewhat disturbing. So I am wondering if the gay community was offended by it at all.

This essay about the show says it was shown in the United States. Mainstream America accepted it, but it did run into some protests from the gay community. The producer of the show argued that it wasn't anti-lesbian. And there were other gay characters besides Ferguson....I guess more positive ones. One was named Franky Doyle. I guess some members of the American gay community took a liking to her. They held a wake for the character when she died.

I wish Judy Blume would do the same regarding homeschooling. She disappointed me by having a very negative and stereotypical homeschooling family in one of her books. I wish she'd write another book someday with a more positive homeschooling family.

Back to Kirpatrick.....

I think I'm just going to use IMDb for awhile. Maybe I'll watch a few videos on YouTube. I feel a bit disjointed at the moment. I need to make sure, for now on, that I search for the RIGHT names when I do these posts.

Kirkpatrick appeared in various TV shows before she did the pirate and prisoner thing.

Her first TV show appearance happened in 1971. This was the Godfathers. My internet is suddenly working very slow. I don't know what's wrong. I'll take a break, I suppose....and read my book.

I'm back. Things are looking better now.

From what I can see, The Godfathers lasted for a pretty short time; maybe only one episode? The premise looks sweet though. It's about a single mother who opens her home to three male boarders. They take on father-like roles with her child. Although in real life, one of the men would probably molest the child. I know that's harsh, but..... Okay, well yeah. I have a harsh view of the world sometimes. What can I say?

Kirkpatrick appeared here and there on TV in the 1970's. I'm too lazy to name all the shows. I'm doubting she had substantial roles. From what I read earlier, it seems the pirate and prisoner stuff were her big breaks.

In 1976, Kirkpatrick appeared in a comedy called Summer of Secrets. When I read the plot description, I mistook the movie for being a horror one:

A young couple venture into a summer beach house and make passionate love, unaware that they are being observed by a demented doctor who later uses the girl as part of a bizarre experiment.
Does that not sound like a horror movie?

In 1977, Kirkpatrick was in F.J Holden. Like you might guess from the's a car movie.

YouTube has the trailer. Kirpatrick might not be in it, but it will be fun to watch anyway.

In 1978, Kirkpatrick was in a movie with the wonderful amazing Ruth Cracknell. This was The Night, The Prowler. I probably wrote about this when I researched Cracknell. It's based on a play by Patrick White. It does sound a LITTLE familar to me.

Here's the trailer. I don't really remember seeing this. Maybe I missed it last time.

That looks very bizarre....but intriguing.

Also in 1978, Kirkpatrick was in The Getting of Wisdom. I like that title. It was directed by Bruce Beresford, the guy who'd go onto later make Breaker Morant and Driving Miss Daisy.

The Getting of Wisdom is also a book. I'm going to see if Powells has it....

They do! I added it to my wish list. I'll order it in a few months, probably.

With all these movies I'm listing....I don't think Kirpatrick had a large role. I might be wrong though.

Here's the trailer for The Pirate Movie. Kirkpatrick's role might have been substantial enough to get her into the trailer. I'm not sure.

Well, I didn't see her....

If the story's true that the Prisoner producers found Kirkpatrick when they watched The Pirate Movie....I wonder if they remembered her from her earlier audition. Did she look completely new to them, or did they recognize her?

Here's some scenes from Prisoner....

This one has Ferguson beating up on someone named Chrissy.

There's a lot of drama in this scene!

That Ferguson is a scary mean woman. I wouldn't want to cross her path. Although I think I've met similar folks on the Internet. It's much easier/better to meet such people within cyberspace, rather than real life.

Here's another Ferguson scene. Well, it looks like the prisoners ALMOST got their revenge.

Kirkpatrick was on Prisoner until 1986. I wonder what happened to her character.

In 1988, Kirpatrick did another soap opera....Richmond Hill. That lasted for only a year. It was about a police station.

I'm going to be skipping some stuff here and there. I'm just warning people. If I miss something you see as being important, please let me know.

In 1990, she was in another Patrick White thing. It was a TV movie called The Ham Funeral. Actually, it might have been a filmed theater production, rather than a TV movie. I mean they performed the play on stage, and someone filmed it.

Also in 1990, Kirkpatrick starred in a children's show called Betty's Bunch. Kirkpatrick played Betty, so I assume she had a pretty major role in that.

Here's a bit from's one of those videos where someone simply filmed their TV set. I think it's the end credits with the theme song. I didn't see Kirkpatrick.

In 1991, Kirkpatrick did another TV show about kids. This one was called The Miraculous Mellops Here's the opening for this show. It's science fiction. I like the little song.

Kirkpatrick played a nun in an episode of Hey Dad...! I mention that because I think it was a fairly popular TV show. Does anyone remember that nun episode? Speaking of nuns....pretty exciting about the Saint Mary thing.

In 1993, Kirkpatrick was in a horror movie called Encounters. According to a IMDb user, it's about a woman who starts having scary dreams about her past.

Also that year, Kirkpatrick played Maureen O'Hara in Billy's Holiday. Isn't Maureen O'Hara an actress?

Yeah. She was in The Parent Trap. I thought so. I wonder if Kirkpatrick was playing the actress, or was she just playing someone who had the same name?

In 1996, Kirkpatrick was in Lilian's Story. That's the one that's based on the Kate Grenville book. and Kate Grenville based her novel on a real life Sydney homeless woman. Kirkpatrick is low in the credits. She probably had a pretty small role. The stars are Ruth Cracknell and Toni Collette. I'd really like to see it someday. I'll look out for it on TV. We get a surprisingly fair amount of Aussie movies.

Here's a scene from the movie. I doubt Kirkpatrick will be in it, but I want to see Cracknell.

I think Cracknell has a beautiful voice.

In 1997, Kirkpatrick appeared in a lost-American-in-Australia movie. This one was called Welcome to Woop Woop. I was guessing it was an American movie filmed in Australia. But the director is an Aussie.

Here's the trailer.

Oh! the director is the guy who did The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

It's funny how knowing who directed a film can change one's outlook. I thought it looked dumb when I saw the title and plot. But seeing who directed it....and watching the looks better than I expected.

In 2000, Kirpatrick revived her Ferguson character for a comedy show called Pizza. Cool. It looks like YouTube has a clip.

Okay. That made me laugh out loud a bit. It's pretty silly.

In 2003 and 2004, Kirkpatrick did ten episodes of Home and Away. She played Viv Standish. Maybe she was related to Miles Standish. He was one of the guys on the Mayflower boat. Yeah. I know she's not. One character is real and the other is fake. I just wanted to show off the fact that I actually know something offhandabout American history. I'm so damn proud of myself.

This website says Viv Standish (AKA "The Guy") was a prisoner. How ironic. Or is that irony? I get confused sometimes.

I'm going to move onto Wicked now. I wonder who is more evil....Madame Morrible or Ferguson.

Never mind. I'll get to that later.

I just found an official Maggie Kirkpatrick site. It includes a message to her fans. That was last updated in 2006. She's a bit behind with her website work. She did Fiddler on the Roof. She starred opposite Topol. I think that's the guy who's in the movie version. Right?

Yeah. Lord Wiki says I'm correct.

Kirkpatrick had a tumor removed on her bowel. Fortunately, it wasn't malignant. But she advises the rest of us to look out for such stuff.

Here's a list of plays Kirkpatrick has been in. Her first professional performance was in Macbeth. She's been in a lot of stuff. I'm not going to list them all.

There's a bunch of articles and interviews. This one's from TV week, and is about her role on Prisoner.

In the interview she says, I'm very happy people hate her as much as they do. It means I've succeeded in what the creator of the character intended.

That makes sense. Although I think the best villains are the ones that make us somewhat Ben on Lost. Or....there's the ones that make us squirm because they somewhat remind us of ourselves. I was a bit disturbed because the villains in Pat Conroy's South of Broad sort of reminded me of myself. One is an awful (but SOMEWHAT sympathetic) mother. She reminded me of me because she's a failure at domestic stuff. Her husband (like Tim) does most of the cooking. Although I'm better than the character because I do SOME of the cooking. I'm not completely lost in that area. She was also passionate about a specific I'm passionate about Australia. But I think (HOPE!) that I'm much less of a bitch than she is.

The other character reminded me of myself because he homeschooled his children and went around speaking in different accents. I homeschool Jack. I speak in different voices and accents almost all the time. But unlike the character in the book, I'm not a scary evil homicidal pedophile.

Anyway, I can't really judge the character of Ferguson because I don't know much about her. She might be one of those villains who is somewhat sympathetic. She might also remind some people of themselves.

In the interview, Kirkpatrick says she left school because she was horrible at it. She says, If only they'd known in those days how to foster or channel the talents of students. Yeah, I don't think many schools are succeeding in that these days either.

Kirkpatrick mentions the guilt of being a working mother. Let's face it. All mothers are going to feel guilty or matter what path they take. I was talking to another mother recently about the guilt of choosing-to-stay home. Sometimes you feel worthless, because our society has taught us you're only worth something if you bring home a paycheck. But if you go off and get a job, then you feel guilty because you're away from you're child.

Mothers can't win. But I'm sure fathers have their grief as well.

Here's the Wicked website. It has a few videos....they're not working so well for me. I'm going to head back to YouTube.

I've linked to this before, but it's worth linking to it again. It's the cast of Wicked singing a memorial tribute to Rob Guest. That's so damn beautiful.

Here's a interview she did with Simon Burke.

She has an elegant sort of beauty.

Funny. They show a clip of The Helpmann Awards. They did a bit with Burke in a prison....and guess who played the warden. Cute!

I love Kirkpatrick's voice. It's pretty much perfect for Madame Morrible.

I think I could also love Kirkpatrick in general. From what I read on her outdated fan message, and from what I see in this interview....well, she has a nice sense of humor. I don't know. She just seems like a nice person to me.

In the interview, she describes both the positive and negative aspects of fame. It got her good tables at restaurants. The banks said yes to her. Life can be nice when people know who you are. But on the negative side, it led her to some not-so-great romances. And sometimes she wasn't responsible with the money. But all in all....she says it was a blast. Well, hopefully it still IS a blast. She hasn't retired yet.

There was a musical version of Prisoner! How funny. Here's a news report about that. This site shows that it didn't last too long. It opened in October 1995, and closed in January. Although maybe it had a comeback? This site says Paris Hilton was potentially going to have a role in the show.

Back to the Simon Burke interview.....

Kirkpatrick is asked about having a Newcastle childhood. She says there's a song that probably sums up the experience for all young woman growing up in smaller Australian towns. "Girls in Our Town". She sings it. It's a pretty song. At least I think so. I can see how Kirpatrick relates to it. The lyrics mention dropping out school when you're fifteen.

Maggie Kirkpatrick is awesome.

I'm guessing the song is an American one. It says bathroom instead of toilet.

Oh no. I'm totally wrong. Lord Wiki says it was written ABOUT Newcastle. And it was written by an Australian. Maybe they figured bathroom fit better than toilet. Do some Australians say bathroom?

Here's the song sung by Margret Roadknight, the woman who made it famous. I really like this song. It's the type of song that makes me want to start crying. I added it to my YouTube favorites. While I'm there, I'll listen to Olivia Newton John sing with Peter Allen. That makes me want to cry as well.


  1. The Freak from Prisoner aka Cell Block H! Marvellous. I think Margaret Roadnight might be interesting to add to your list.

  2. Andrew,

    Thanks : ) Good idea. I added her to the list.

  3. OMG I can't believe Mags made your list ... my lips are sealed ;)

  4. I LOVE your blog. So much interesting stuff, and some great memories.

    One memory this entry brought up was The Godfathers, which used to be my favourite TV show way back then. I remember that Ashley Grenville played the kid, and Anna Volska played the mum. She married John Bell, who started the Bell Shakespeare Company, Australia's foremost Shakespeare company.

    The three godfathers were played by Eric Oldfield, Robert Bruning and Michael Laurence. The latter two also wrote it.

  5. Cherie: You're being so mysterious!!!

    Timbo: Hi! Thank you! So I'm guessing the Godfathers lasted for more than one episode than. I couldn't tell from IMDb. How long was it on?

  6. Yes, it ran for a few seasons (I can't remember how many), and was quite popular at the time. A feel-good show. Eric Oldfield was a bit of a heart-throb back then. Tina Grenville (who I think was Ashley's Mum in real life) was also in it.