When it comes to the early dominant faces of television in Australia, you can’t go past the enigmatic Bunney Brooke.
Bunney’s early life was a chaotic one, adopted and raised by foster parents she joined the army to escape that part of her life. Later she used marriage to Leonard Brooks to escape the life of the military. Even though they had two children together, Bunney felt they were “wrong for marriage” and switched to the life of the drifter. It was then she got into clowning, acting, and even becoming a train conductor.
In show business, Bunney worked a lot on stage, but it wasn’t until she scored the role of Flo on the hit show Number 96 that she was launched into stardom and your lounge room. The part started as a bit part but as Bunney’s popularity grew so did the part. She was on the program until it ended in 1977 and even took part in the feature film version of the show.
Leaving her imprint on more than one generation of television viewer by scoring the role of Nell Richards on the children’s hit show Round the Twist as well as the role of Auntie Vi Patchett in E Street that she made at the same time.
A long time heavy smoker and drinker, Bunney passed away in 2000 at 80-years old. She had been battling both bowel and liver cancer. Tributes came fast and heartfelt from the people she worked with including Elisabeth Kirkby from Number 96 who was so impressed with Bunney’s work saying “Brooke’s performance was memorising. There was no dialogue. It was just the expression on her face. It was almost as it was happening”. Another Number 96 star said that it was “Impossible not to learn from Bunney. You could turn to her in a moment of exasperation knowing she would impart something very timely if humbling”.
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One of the most glowing tributes was from Frankie J. Holden who worked with Bunney on Round the Twist. He said “”Could play with the kids, be a serious actress opposite the adults and that night drink the crew under the table.”
Bunney was a one of a kind character that forever left her mark on Australian Television history.