Penne Hackforth-Jones, one of the nation's most recognisable actors, died on Saturday, months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The 64-year-old appeared in almost every well-known TV series including A Country Practice, Bellbird, All Saints and Mother and Son. Her last appearance was in ABC1's Dr Blake Mysteries.
Born Penelope Beatrix Hackforth-Jones in the US state of Connecticut, she was brought up in Australia. Her first credited screen role was in the 1969 TV series Riptide. Typical of the times, its star was the American import Ty Hardin. But wherever Australian entertainment history was being made, Hackforth-Jones was there.
"Gentle, self-effacing and extremely funny": Tribute to Penne Hackforth-Jones. Photo: Rick Stevens
She appeared in seminal series of the '70s, including Bellbird, Number 96, Alvin Purple, Homicide and Matlock Police. Whether it was her aristocratic name, or her elegance, Hackforth-Jones was cast wherever a cultivated, aristocratic or sharp-tongued bitch was required. It was evidence of her skill, as in private she was gentle, self-effacing and extremely funny.
Her gift for comedy was evident in 1994's Muriel's Wedding. Playing a bridal shop manageress, she helped Muriel (played by Toni Collette) into yet another gown while tartly telling off her wheelchair-bound friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths): ''You can't come in here and threaten brides. I don't care how unfortunate you are.''
Slightly built and pixie-beautiful, Hackforth Jones was always game.This was possibly due to her upbringing, of which she wrote: ''I was raised with horses and learnt to ride in a rigorous school which had us jumping over obstacles with our hands held out horizontally. It taught you balance - it taught you how to get off, too, when you found yourself going round the arena underneath the horse.''
Penne Hackforth-Jones: In seminal productions.
Hackforth-Jones also published a biography of her great-great grandmother, Barbara Baynton: Between Two Worlds.
Hackforth-Jones began blogging not long ago. The last entry, ''AbFab in India'', was a review of the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The final paragraph is sadly prescient: ''We are all moving on into this shadowland and dealing with it with as much of our better natures as we can muster.''