as Elizabeth Goddard
Noni Hazlehurst’s numerous talents have made her a household name – as one of Australia’s most distinguished and respected actors, her career spans over 40 years.
This was again acknowledged in 2016 when she was only the second woman to be inducted into the TV WEEK Logie Hall of Fame.
Noni was born in Melbourne in the 1950s to vaudevillian parents with show business the natural choice for her. She learned how to sing, dance, act and play piano, her versatility serving her well throughout her long career.
A Flinders University drama graduate, Noni landed her first role in The Box in 1975 before joining The Sullivans as Lil Duggan in 1976. More roles followed in the critically acclaimed telemovies The Shiralee and Nancy Wake.
In 1978, she joined the long-adored Play School, becoming one of their most loved faces for the next 24 years. In a career bursting with highlights, it is a role she still considers her favourite and in 1998 she was honoured with an Order of Australia (AM) for her services to children and children’s television.
In the 1990s, Noni hosted Better Homes and Gardens. During her 10 years with the program, it won five Logie Awards for Most Popular Lifestyle Show.
Noni personally received two Logies for her performances in the mini-series Waterfront and Ride on Stranger as well as four AFI Awards for Little Fish, Waiting at the Royal, Fran and Monkey Grip. She’s also received three AFI nominations for her roles in Fatty Finn, Bitter & Twisted and Candy, acting opposite Heath Ledger and Geoffrey Rush.
Screen roles include the telemovies Stepfather of the Bride (2006) and Curtin (2007) and the gritty drama City Homicide (2007-2011).
In 2007, she added another notch to her impressive list of awards when she was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Flinders University in South Australia. Other notable awards include a Variety Club Award for Achievement in Television and two Film Critic’s Circle of Australia Awards.
Noni’s theatre credits are extensive, working both at home and in London’s West End. In 2015 and 2016 in between filming series of A Place To Call Home she starred in and toured the critically acclaimed and and sell-out production of her first one-woman play Mother by award-winning playwright Daniel Keene, which tells the story of a homeless, ageing woman named Christy, living on the outskirts of suburbia.
Noni’s most recent feature film is Truth opposite Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett.
Noni thrives on her charity work and is also an in-demand writer, penning articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as contributing to several books.
In 2011 she recorded a video reading of the bestselling strictly-for-parents mock children’s book Go The F— to Sleep, which became part of a popular Internet meme and also included readings of the book by German arthouse film director Werner Herzog and American actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Noni’s most prized role is as mother to sons Charlie and William.
Season five left Elizabeth – or Lizzy as her beloved Douglas called her – widowed and in a state of shock over her role in his death. The arrival of Douglas’ son, Matthew, helped reignite Elizabeth’s interest in life and give her an unexpected but welcome link to memories of Douglas.
In The Final Chapter, Elizabeth will become keenly aware of her need for change. As Noni notes: “Everything she’s known is in question but she’s determined to absorb some of the Lizzy that Douglas made her but not go back to being Elizabeth Bligh. She’s got this constant – who do I need to be – Lizzy or Elizabeth – she’s juggling these two identities.”
Looking back over her time as the Bligh family matriarch, Noni says: “I’ve learned a lot about my Mum from doing this. She was very secretive and wouldn’t share anything about her life, and so it helped to reinforce my determination – not only because of my mother – but playing this character, who was so hidebound because of those beliefs that you don’t talk about anything that could embarrass the family, it’s made me doubly determined to not be like that with my own children or with anyone. The bottom line is about reminding people that you’re not alone and that we share more similarities than differences and we all do things we regret and no one’s perfect – there’s no such thing as perfect.”