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A cracking read about a star of stage and screen

By David Rak

A Biased Memoir, by Ruth Cracknell

If you have a look at the past episodes of Mother and Son on your computer, you will see they are still being viewed many thousands of times twenty-five years after the last one went to air.

The show was a huge highlight in Australian TV, starring Ruth Cracknell as Garry McDonald’s demented mother Maggie Beare, hilariously ruling and ruining her son’s life.

From the age of nearly 60 to 70, Ruth had us in stitches as she portrayed a condition which in fact is anything but funny, although as she herself said later, the show never once mentioned the word Alzheimer’s.

Many people probably did not even know the term back in those days, and even now we do know it, watching some of those episodes, it is still impossible not to laugh at Ruth’s comic rendition of it.

But that was not the be-all-and-end-all of Ruth Cracknell’s life, because here, we have her autobiography.

Born in 1925, it was not until the 1950s, after several years living in London and seeing some of the world, that she became a stage actress.

She was incomparably good at it, because from the beginning she was rarely out of work, and managed to fit in a happy marriage and three children, and gradually-unfolding fame, into the rest of her life.

Here, she tells us of her childhood and family in the world of 1930s Sydney, including a large number of extremely eccentric aunts, and how it was in those days.

Theatre, film, TV and radio; it seems she was supreme in every role she played, so dedicated was she to her art.

And in true ‘trooper-style’, she was still going when she finally succumbed to pneumonia, at the age of 77.

What an interesting read. Vale, Ruth.

-By Lee Stephenson.