In 1985, Hollywood actress Victoria Shaw returned to Australia in failing health from the U.S. to live with her sister Margaret McDonell at 37 River Street, Taree.3 She afterwards moved to Sydney and by August 1988 she had died at the age of 53 from emphysema.4
Victoria Shaw’s real name was Jeanette Elphick and she was born in Croydon, Sydney in 1935.5 After attending a Catholic Convent School she left to work in office jobs until her parents agreed to let her complete a deportment course with the newly formed June Dally-Watkins School.6 Four months later aged 16 she was named Artists’ Model of the Year in 1951 and in 1952 Photographic Model of the Year.7 In 1953 she scored an acting role starring with Chips Rafferty in an Australian western called ‘The Phantom Stockman’.8 In 1955 she worked briefly with Bob Hope in Sydney who said he would recommend her to his agent if she ever went to Hollywood. Jeanette did go to Hollywood and was signed up to Columbia Pictures with a 7 year contract.9
Throughout the 1950s and 60s she appeared in movies with her most notable being ‘The Eddy Duchin Story’. She married actor Roger Smith and they had three children.10 After their divorce in 1965 she married TV producer Elliott Alexander but that ended shortly after in divorce. Her last film was in 1973 called ‘Westworld’. In the late 70s she made TV guest appearances including ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘General Hospital’.11 Being the first to admit her career “had been very spotty”, she was laid to rest in the Woronora Memorial Park, NSW as Victoria Shaw.12
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Daily Telegraph, 30 October 1951, 5.
2 The Sun, 10 August 1952, 41; NSW BDM, various birth and marriage certificates for Elphick, Hughes, Becker.
3 Ancestry.com.au, Australian Electoral Roll, Taree 1980; SMH, 19 August 1988, 4.
4 SMH, 19 August 1988, 4.
5 Australian Cemetery Index, https://www.austcemindex.com/inscription?id=15873339#images
6 Daily Telegraph, 15 June 1952, 41.
7 Daily Telegraph, 8 May 1953, 30.
8 SMH, 26 June 1952, 39.
9 Ancestry.com.au, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959 for Jeanette Elphick.
10 Ancestry.com.au, California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959, marriage index for Roger Smith and Jeanette A Elphick, 1956; Forgotten Australia podcast, Side Note: From Model to Movie Star, 19 October 2019, https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/side-note-from-model-to-movie-star/id1442763878?i=1000454049783
11 Forgotten Australia podcast.
12 SMH, 19 August 1988, 4; Australian Cemetery Index, https://www.austcemindex.com/inscription?id=15873339#images