West Darling Arts caught up recently with the indefatigable June Marie Bennett who still has the stamina and sparkle of a showgirl!
June Marie Bennett is a Broken Hill entertainer who played the hard-drinking Shirl in the 1994 film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It’s been 30 years since Broken Hill grandmother and theatrical society actor, June Marie Bennett, scored the only speaking role for a local woman in Priscilla. A role which she is still recognised for. June’s character Shirl, the pub drinker in the white singlet, uttered the immortal lines “No, you can’t have. You can’t have nothing. We’ve got nothing here for people like you. Where did you come here from? Did you come here from Uranus!”
She recalls she turned up for the Priscilla shoot at 6am, wearing her husband’s old white singlet and a black bra. The costume department couldn’t find anything better so she stayed like that — with the make-up department messing up her hair and drawing lines on her face.
Garry Reinikka, AKA Dame Liz Taylor, has painted a portrait of June Marie (as herself, not Shirl), as a celebration of her life and her work and her wonderful personality. The painting is exhibited on the Dining Room walls at the Palace Hotel, adding to their collection of memorabilia from the film.
June has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her contribution to art and music in Broken Hill over a 50-year period. She is also a member of the Broken Hill Forever Young Singers who have been visiting three nursing homes in Broken Hill: Harold Williams Home, Aruma Lodge and St Anne’s. The group are accompanied by pianist, Sue Elliot and sometimes Pam Schorn and Mark Curtis. June, who is nearly 85, and other volunteers have been doing this since the 1980s. June commented that it is amazing to see residents who sometimes have dementia, joining in singing.
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