Carol Burns

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Carol Burns (22 February 1947 – 21 December 2015) was an Australian actress and patron of the arts. She worked extensively in film, television and theatre in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Career highlights

Born and raised in Brisbane, Burns attended Milton State Primary School where her initiation into the world of theatre began with speech and drama classes in 1958. Burns acted with Brisbane Arts Theatre and also Twelfth Night Theatre, where she also tutored within the junior drama workshops, in Brisbane.

Burns' major television role was her award winning performance in the now cult television program, Prisoner, in which she played tough lesbian bikie, and original character Franky Doyle. Although only appearing in the first 20 episodes, her character attained worldwide cult status resulting in her winning a Logie Award for best lead actress. Burns stated in a 2011 interview that she left the show due to very low pay and an increased work load as a result of the more rapid production of episodes. She also stated that it was her decision to be killed off as she did not want to be lured back. A highly experienced and versatile theatre actress, she went to th euk and appeared in numerous West End productions and had role in series such as The Bill, Taggart and Heartbeat .Burns also appeared in films including The Mango Tree,Bad BloodStarstruck, and Strikebound.

Burns had acted exclusively in the theatre for ten years before acting in film or on television. As a founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company, based in Brisbane, she was a major contributor to its success. In 2005, Burns performed in the Queensland Theatre Company's sell-out season of Edward Albee's production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. As part of the 2007 season, she appeared in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. She has also performed for La Boite Theatre. She was in a stage production of Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman by Italian playwright Dario Fo. In 2015, Burns played, in what turned out to be her final performance, the highly challenging lead role in Samuel Beckett'sHappy Days for Queensland Theatre Company.

Burns was also a talented director. She directed a stage production of Picnic at Hanging Rock at Brisbane Arts Theatre.


On 21 December 2015, Burns died of cancer at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane at the age of 68. She was married to composer and musician Alan Lawrence for 36 years.

Awards and nominations

  • Logie Awards – Best Lead Actress in a Series – Prisoner (1979) – won
  • Australian Film Institute – Best Actress in a Guest Role in a Television Drama Series – Blue Heelers (1994) – episode – "Deadly Fascination" – nominated
  • Australian Film Institute – Best Actress in a Lead Role – Strikebound (1984) - nominated
  • Australian Film Institute – Best Actress in a Supporting Role – The Mango Tree (1977) – nominated
  • Queensland Actors Equity Award – Best Established Artist – (2006) – won


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