Pat McDonald (actress)

Patricia Ethell McDonald (1 August 1921[1] – 10 March 1990) was an Australian radio actress and actress of stage and television and the daughter of one of Australia's most prominent electric radio engineers and public servants, Arthur Stephen McDonald and his wife, milliner Edith Roseina Ethell.[2] Her grandfather, bootmaker John McDonald, was born in Victoria, and married Eliza Mary Stevenson.[3]

Pat McDonald
Pat McDonald pictured right with Bunney Brooke, in Number 96
Patricia Ethell McDonald

(1921-08-01)1 August 1921
Elwood, Victoria, Australia
Died10 March 1990(1990-03-10) (aged 68)
Years active1939–1989
Known forNumber 96, Sons and Daughters
Partner(s)Bunney Brooke
Awards4 Logie Awards (1 Gold 1974)

McDonald was best-known for two long-running soap opera roles. She played comical malaproping gossip Dorrie Evans in the popular serial Number 96 between 1972 and 1977 and then played Aunty Fiona Thompson in Sons and Daughters between 1981 to 1987. She was featured in both shows throughout their entire run-about five and a half years in each case. McDonald won four Logie awards, including the 1974 Gold Logie, for her work on Number 96.


McDonald was born in 1921, and at the age of 18 acted in the 1939 Australian film Seven Little Australians based on the novel by English children's literary writer Ethel Turner she played the twenty-year-old stepmother Esther. She much later appeared in an episode of the 1971 police drama The Long Arm. The role in Number 96 followed; she reprised the role in the 1974 feature film version of the series. McDonald won several Logie Awards as Best Actress for playing Dorrie, and a Gold Logie for Australia's most popular female personality in 1974. After Number 96 she played a regular role in the short-lived Australian situation comedy series The Tea Ladies (1978).

One of McDonald's final TV appearances was at the Logie Awards on 17 March 1989, when she took part in a production number called "Golden Girls", which celebrated female Gold Logie winners of years past. She performed the song with Lorrae Desmond, Hazel Phillips, Denise Drysdale, Jeanne Little, and Rowena Wallace.

Later in 1989 McDonald appeared in an episode of the hit British TV series In Sickness and in Health in which she played Raeline's mother. The episode was aired in the UK in October 1989.

Personal life

McDonald was married in 1941 to Captain Peter Hendry, a son of a reverend and doctor in the Australian Army.[4]

During the 1970s she was involved in a live-in lesbian relationship with Number 96 co-star Bunney Brooke. The two actresses openly appeared in magazine articles about the suburban Sydney home they shared, and they freely discussed their international summer holidays together in press articles, although the true nature of the relationship was not explicitly stated.[5]


McDonald died after a lengthy illness of cancer of the pancreas in North Shore, Sydney,[6] on 10 March 1990, aged 68. Her partner actress and casting agent Bunney Brooke later died in April 2000.



Year Film Role Notes
1988 Gaston en Leo in Hong Kong Zuster Olivia Movie
1940 Wings of Destiny (billed as Patricia McDonald) Marion Jamieson Movie
1939 Seven Little Australians Esther Movie


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! As self TV documentary (Archive Footage)
2008 Sons & Daughters: Classic Cliffhangers Fiona Thompson VHS (Video) (Archive Footage)
2006 Sons & Daughters 25th Anniversary: The Best of Pat the Rat Fiona Thompson VHS (Video) (Archive Footage)
2006 Number 96... The Final Years Dorrie Evans VHS (Video) (Archive Footage)
1989 In Sickness and in Health (Episode: #4.7) Railene's Mother TV Series
1982–1987 Sons and Daughters (966 Episodes) Fiona Thompson TV Series
1983 The Body Corporate Lady Tustrain TV Movie
1981 A Country Practice (Part 1 & 2) Lily Bauer TV Series
1978 Glenview High (Episode: The Siren) Lily Bauer TV Series
1978 The Tea Ladies (unknown ???) TV Series
1976 The 18th Annual TV Week Logie Awards As self TV Special
1974 The 16th Annual TV Week Logie Awards As Self (Gold Logie Award Winner) TV Special
1973 The 15th Annual TV Week Logie Awards As self TV Special
1972–1977 Number 96 (29 Episodes) Dorrie Evans TV Series
1971 The Coorabungle Deposit (Episode: Dynasty) Selma TV Series
1971 Homicide (Episode: The Terrible Strangeler) Mrs. Davis TV Series
1970 Division 4 (Episode: Man From Lightning Bridge) / Ruby Slater (Episode: Running Sheet) Betty Gregson TV Series
1970 The Long Arm (Episode: Only a Wave Away) Miss Bacon TV Series


  1. "Births". The Argus. 3 August 1921. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  2. Goot, Murray. "McDonald, Arthur Stephen (1891–1955)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  3. Goot, Murray. "McDonald, Arthur Stephen (1891–1955)". Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  4. "In The Theatres". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 May 1941. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  5. Mercado, Andrew. Super Aussie Soaps, Pluto Press Australia, 2004. ISBN 1-86403-191-3 p 46
  6. "Actress Pat, 'the ultimate professional', dies at 58 (sic)". The Canberra Times. 11 March 1990. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
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