TV icon Desmond earns Australia Day honour

Lorrae Desmond became a familiar Aussie face for screen roles including A Country Practice.
Lorrae Desmond became a familiar Aussie face for screen roles including A Country Practice.

For more than a decade, Lorrae Desmond was beamed into Aussie households each week on A Country Practice.

Even those who weren't regular viewers of the hit TV soap opera knew Shirley Gilroy.

For Desmond, now 91, the show captured the best qualities of Australiana.

"We could do with more of the values the show had, community caring and friendships ... in my opinion that's what made it special," Desmond, now based on the Gold Coast, told AAP.

While many people will remember Desmond for her ACP role, it was far from her foray into entertainment, with a life-long commitment to the industry prompting her appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia.

On screen, she hosted The Lorrae Desmond Show in the 1960s, for which she won a Gold Logie in 1962 - the first woman to claim the top gong.

She was a cast member on popular TV soapie Number 96 and drama Homicide, and also had a late-1990s guest role on Home and Away.

But Desmond is most passionate about her work as a lyricist.

"I wrote songs as a young artist but didn't receive the recognition," she said.

"I also wrote or co-wrote the script and lyrics for three musicals, one of them was optioned in New York. Real chuffed about that.

"Also it would have been easier to stay at home and write and not to have to put on any slap (makeup)."

Among her most memorable acts was a tour of Vietnam to entertain the troops.

"I don't like wars but I love soldiers. Getting my gong (an MBE) for entertaining troops was a highlight of my life, (and) getting the AM ... just about tops that," she said.

Among the other 26 Aussies in the arts and entertainment industry to make the Australia Day honours list in 2021 are Brisbane Symphony Orchestra founding conductor Antoni Bonetti, choreographer Chrissie Parrott and Little River Band founding member Graeham Goble.

Indigenous rap star and 2019 Young Australian of the Year Danzal Baker - better known as Baker Boy - has also earned a spot on the honours list, being appointed to an OAM.

Australian Associated Press