Abigail (actress)

Abigail Rogan[1][2] (known mononymously as Abigail; born (1946-07-23) 23 July 1946 in London) is a retired English-born Australian character actress particularly of television soap operas and film and was also briefly a vocalist. She emigrated from London in 1968 and became one of Australia's significant sex symbols of the early-1970s.

Abigail was educated in France, and came to Australia when she was given the chance to appear as the female lead in a local theatre production in Perth of the British comedy There's a Girl in My Soup.[3]

She is best known for her roles in two prominent Australian soap operas, where she became known simply as Abigail. She first became best known to Australians as a sex symbol in Number 96, as the first actress to play Bev Houghton; and then for her role as conniving Caroline Morrell in Sons and Daughters.

Personal life

Abigail was twice married; first to her manager actor Mark Hashfield (who also appeared on Number 96 as Alan Cotterill) and then to actor Adrian Wright.[4][5]

Career

Abigail began in show business in the UK, appearing in the TV shows Robin Hood and Continental Theatre. After arriving in Australia in 1968, she studied civil engineering at university and acted on the side, gaining the female lead in a theatrical production of the comedy There's a Girl in My Soup on stage in Perth, Western Australia. She then moved to Sydney, New South Wales and appeared in a television advertisement with Phil Silvers and the TV series Delta.

From 1972 to mid-1973, Abigail appeared in the Network Ten sexed-up soap opera Number 96 as Bev Houghton. She was promoted as a sex symbol and became "Australia's undisputed number 1 female sex symbol in the early 1970s" through her role in Number 96, which provided fleeting nude glimpses.[3][6] As the show's most famous sex symbol many people assume that Abigail was the first woman to appear topless on Australian television; however, that credit belongs to fellow cast member Vivienne Garrett in the same series.[7] To the surprise of her television fans, Abigail left the cast of Number 96 in mid-1973, and her character of Bev Houghton was recast to Victoria Raymond (a.k.a. Victoria Resch), who had been written into the series shortly before Abigail's departure and also presented as a sex symbol.

In 1973, after leaving Number 96, she published her autobiography, Call Me Abigail which sold 150,000 copies in its first two weeks of sale.[8] Also in 1973, Abigail made an attempt at a popular music career and scored a hit with a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Je t'aime... moi non plus", which reached the top 10 in Australia.[9] Although this debut was a success, follow-ups, including a comedic release with ventriloquist Chris Kirby, were not.

During this period she appeared in a series of brief cameo roles in a string of sex comedy films such as Alvin Purple (1973), and its 1974 sequel Alvin Rides Again. In 1974, Abigail would perform a striptease in the burlesque comedy "The Legend of San Peel" in The Barrel Theatre, a well-known strip palace in Kings Cross,[8] while struggling to find serious acting jobs. In 1975, in a brief return to television she appeared in Class of '75 for three weeks as a prim French Senior Mistress in a black wig and frumpy spectacles. Also in 1975 she played Esmerelda in The True Story of Eskimo Nell and in 1976 appeared in another bawdy comedy Eliza Fraser.[8]

Abigail returned to Number 96 for a two-episode appearance in November 1976. This new comedy character, the oft-divorced Eve, would potentially appear in a spinoff series, Fair Game, which never eventuated. She also appeared in a recurring sketch in comedy series The Norman Gunston Show called "The Checkout Chicks". This sketch, a send-up of melodramatic soap operas set in a supermarket, mostly featured other former Number 96 actors - Vivienne Garrett, Candy Raymond, Philippa Baker, Judy Lynne and Anne Louise Lambert. The show was finally cancelled in July 1977.

In 1977, Abigail appeared in the hospital-based series The Young Doctors as super-efficient secretary Hilary Templeton who worked for a celebrity patient of the hospital. In the show, her boss is murdered and she leaves the storyline, only to later return with her character now running the company of her former boss. Also in 1977 she had a cameo role in the film Summer City, which is notable for being the first to have Mel Gibson in a major role.

Abigail had some success in the theatre, specialising in comedy roles. She toured New South Wales and Queensland with the stage farce A Bedfull of Foreigners in 1983.[6] In 1984 she appeared in Melvin, Son of Alvin. In 1985, Abigail scored a regular role in another soap opera Sons and Daughters, playing the role of Caroline Morrell, alongside former pop singer Normie Rowe, a role she continued until the series ended in 1987. In 1988, she appeared in Breaking Loose. In 1989 she co-starred in Elly & Jools playing the crazy Country & Western singer wannabe, Dulcie Dickson. In 1990 she appeared in Sher Mountain Killings Mystery and was a regular cast member of the short-lived soap opera Family and Friends and in 1991 appeared in another soap Chances. In 1994 she presented a prime-time repeat of the 1977 Number 96 retrospective, And They Said It Couldn't Last.

Retirement from acting

Her last television appearance was in 2002, when she briefly became a spokesman for weight-loss company Jenny Craig. She claimed to have lost 17 kilograms in seven weeks.

Abigail was interviewed on Sydney radio station 2GB on her 60th birthday in 2006. At that time she was living on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

In March 2011, Australian current affairs program Today Tonight produced a story on Abigail, claiming that she had fallen on hard times, and claiming she was living as a squatter in a derelict church. A rebuttal story was aired the following evening by rival current affairs program, A Current Affair. In fact she had been living there with permission, with her husband, as her home had been partially destroyed by floods. Her damaged home was being prepared for rebuilding. The Today Tonight story captured some hidden camera footage of Abigail. She did not appear on camera consensually.

Filmography

Television

Film

Discography

Singles[10]
Album[10]
  • 1973 Abigail Festival Records (Australia) L-35260
    • Side A: 1. "An Occasional Man" 2. "My Baby Does it Good" 3. "New Fangled Tango" 4. "These Dreams" 5. "Do It Again" 6. "Je T'aime"
    • Side B 1. "Sugar Me" 2. "The Man I Love" 3. "(Just As) I Am" 4. "Pillow Talk" 5. "Last Tango in Paris" 6. "Please Terry, Do It One More Time"*

The track "Please Terry Do It One More Time", is the one that features Chris Kirby.

Produced by Martin Erdman
Recorded at Festival's 'Studio 24", Sydney Australia
Terry appears by courtesy of Chris Kirby.

References

  1. "Abigail [Press Clippings]". 1900. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. Mawby, Nathan (17 March 2011). "TV soap star Abigail's flood misery". The Sunday Times. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  3. Abigail on IMDb
  4. Knox, David (17 March 2011). ""TV royalty" branded "squatter" by Today Tonight". TV Tonight. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  5. "TV soap star Abigail's flood misery". Herald Sun. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  6. Atterton, Margot. (Ed.) The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Australian Showbiz, Sunshine Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86777-057-0 p 11
  7. Mercado, Andrew. Super Aussie Soaps, Pluto Press Australia, 2004. ISBN 1-86403-191-3 pp 44–45
  8. "Aussie Soap Archive: Abigail: "I was naked"". Members.ozemail.com.au. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  9. McFadyen, Warwick (18 June 2005). "Strike up the banned". The Age. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  10. "Abigail". Australian Music Database. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  11. "Abigail - Je t'aime (I Love You)". Pop Archives. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
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