Veteran Actor And Radio Favourite

Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday November 4, 1995



Ethel Lang, the veteran actor and radio performer, has died in Sydney.

She is best known for her leading roles in the long-running ABC radio serials The Lawsons and Blue Hills and as Aunt Jenny in Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, which ran on commercial radio for 18 years until 1961. She also appeared on stage, including roles as Lady Macbeth and Portia in The Merchant of Venice.

Her career began in 1924 on 2FC, one of Australia's first radio stations. She said of her early years in radio: "We weren't allowed to say anything like damn or God and, as for sex, you dare not mention it." Her career was at its peak when farmers across the nation stopped work to listen over lunch to The Lawsons and then Blue Hills and when ABC players performed Shakespeare on Sunday afternoons.

Yet she retained her acting instincts until her death, aged 93. She visited Adelaide a month ago with Queenie Ashton, another Blue Hills veteran, and the couple performed as part of a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the ABC's rural department. They received a standing ovation for performing The Old Grey Mare.

Lang's first radio work consisted of 10-minute radio sketches with her husband, Jim Brunton Gibb, a speech teacher in Sydney.

Blue Hills, which also featured Ruth Cracknell and Gwen Plumb, became the world's longest-running radio serial, with 5,795 episodes broadcast continuously from 1949 to 1976. She appeared in other well-known radio serials, including Mary Livingston MD and When a Girl Marries. She appeared once on stage with her daughters, Barbara and Wendy.

Ethel received the AM in 1992. She leaves her two daughters, two sons, Peter and David, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. A funeral service will be held at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium at 11 am on Monday.

© 1995 Sydney Morning Herald

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