Home and Away star Cornelia Frances dies at 77

The heartbreaking last photo of Cornelia Frances: Veteran Home and Away actress dies aged 77 after losing her battle with bladder cancer as her son shares a picture of her in hospital

Cornelia Frances’ son has shared a heartbreaking photo of his mother in her last days, as tributes pour in for the TV legend following her death aged 77.

The Australian actress, known for her roles in Home and Away, Prisoner and Sons and Daughters, passed away surrounded by her friends and family.

Cornelia was diagnosed with bladder cancer over a year ago and, later, doctors told her the disease had spread to her hip and spine.

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‘I love you, mum’: Cornelia Frances’ son has shared a heartbreaking photo of his mother in her last days, as tributes pour in for the TV legend following her death aged 77 this week

According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Cornelia died ‘overnight’ in Sydney.

Cornelia’s son Lawrence Eastland captioned the image of his mother in her hospital bed: ‘A very personal photo of my mum during one of her resting moments.

‘She is so peaceful, soft and serene. I truly love this woman,’ he added, alongside the hashtags: ‘Strong’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘I love you, mum’.

During an interview with A Current Affair earlier this year, it was revealed that the showbusiness veteran was being treated at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.

Coincidentally, this was the same hospital where she filmed the iconic Channel Nine series The Young Doctors in the 1970s. 

Health struggle: Cornelia was diagnosed with bladder cancer over a year ago and, later, doctors told her the disease had spread to her hip and spine. Pictured in hospital in February

Cornelia, known to younger viewers as host of Australia’s The Weakest Link, had celebrated her 77th birthday with loved ones from her hospital bed only last month. 

Earlier this year, Cornelia expressed hopes that she would reprise her role as Alf Stewart’s villainous sister, Morag Bellingham, on Home and Away.

She told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘I would dearly love to go back to Summer Bay but haven’t heard anything as yet’.

‘I would dearly love to go back to Summer Bay’: Earlier this year, Cornelia had expressed hopes that she would reprise her role as Alf Stewart’s villainous sister, Morag Bellingham

In January, the Liverpool-born television legend revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer 12 months earlier.

‘I discovered I had bladder cancer. This then spread to my hip bone which fractured, and then I almost died from loss of blood due to an ulcer in my throat,’ she said.

‘Despite all this, I am still here, as the old song goes.’

Character actress: Cornelia, who emigrated to Australia from England in the 1970s, found success playing villains in a string of successful TV shows. Pictured on The Young Doctors

Famous role: Earlier this year, it was revealed that Cornelia was receiving cancer treatment at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital – where she had previously filmed The Young Doctors

Cornelia, who emigrated to Australia from England in the 1970s, found success playing villains in a string of successful TV shows.

Reflecting on her 50-year entertainment career, she said in February: ‘I’d like to thank the producers who hired me because it ain’t easy to put a b***h on television.’

Cornelia added that she had no hard feelings about never winning a Logie Award – Australian TV’s highest honour – despite being nominated six times.

‘It’s a public opinion, they don’t like the b***hes, they like the nice ladies. Being nominated was a great thrill, it was lovely,’ she said. 

Legend: Cornelia recently said she had no hard feelings about never winning a Logie Award – Australian TV’s highest honour – despite being nominated six times

Soap stardom: Cornelia is pictured as Morag Bellingham on Home and Away alongside her on-screen brother Alf Stewart, played by Ray Meagher 

Cornelia is survived by her son, Lawrence, who told New Idea only weeks ago that she had enjoyed celebrating her birthday with family.

‘Mum had the best day surrounded by some of her closest friends,’ he said. ‘It was wonderful to see her smile and laugh.’

Lawrence added: ‘Ever the trouper, she remains positive and is hoping for a miracle.’

Fearful TV presenter: Cornelia was the host of Australia’s version of The Weakest List, taking on the role made famous by Anne Robinson in the British and American series

Channel Seven paid tribute to Cornelia on Tuesday, describing her as an inspirational and ‘unique person’.

A spokesperson said. ‘Her on screen presence inspired a generation of actors. 

‘This gift was coupled with an ability to bring a sense of dignity and presence into each room she entered. Her energy and character will be missed.’

Ray Meagher also said: ‘We had a moment of silence for her on set (of Home and Away) this morning and she’ll be sadly missed by both cast and crew.’

Cancer battle: In January this year, the television legend revealed that she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer 12 months earlier

From playing Alf’s evil sister Morag to becoming the fearful host of The Weakest Link, Cornelia was undoubtedly Australia’s favourite TV villain. 

Working in the industry for almost half a century, the veteran actress appeared in numerous television shows, stage performances and films in her time.

Her most famous roles included Sister Grace Scott on The Young Doctors, and Barbara Hamilton on Sons and Daughters.

Rest in peace: Working in the industry for almost half a century, the veteran actress appeared in numerous television shows, stage performances and films in her time

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