Cult Faction is sad to report that Vivean Gray aka Mrs Mangel in Australian soap opera Neighbours, has passed away at the age of 92 years old.
Gray came from humble beginnings, one of four siblings, her father ran a fish and chip shop in Cleethorpes native moved to Australia in 1952 with dreams of becoming a jazz pianist.
Unfortunately her dream of becoming a jazz pianist did not come to fruition, but a career in acting soon did. Theatre work led to appearances in A City’s Child, Libido, Homicide, The Great MacArthy, Division 4, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Lucky Colour Blue, Matlock Police, Power Without Glory, Solo One, and Bluey.
Her first big role was as Mrs. Jessup in The Sullivans, then came The Last Wave, Carson’s Law, and All The River’s Run. Then came Prisoner: Cell Block H in 1984 where as Edna Pearson she was involved in a very controversial story, where after the initial showing of the episodes in Australia, a woman claimed the story was based on her real life experience of being accused of poisoning her husband threatened to sue the producers, Grundy Television. As a result, any material that coincided with the woman’s story was removed for subsequent episode screenings, including the full Australian DVD release of Prisoner: Cell Block H. In 2010 a special DVD release of the full uncut ‘Edna’ story was released but only in the United Kingdom
Then came the role of Mrs Mangel in Neighbours who Gray played in more than 250 episodes from 1986-1988. Gray played the nosey agitator with such vigor that it resulted on her being abused in the street in real life. Unfortunately, this led to her giving up acting, complaining of the verbal attacks she received from people who could not distinguish her from her on-screen character: “I could barely set foot outside my own door without someone screaming abuse at horrid old Mrs Mangel. “People didn’t seem to appreciate it was acting. So I decided to take a break.”
Mark Little, who played her on-screen son Joe, said he had been “privileged to know and work with her. We laughed a lot creating The Mangel Dynasty,” the comedian and actor said on Twitter.
“Vivean’s contribution to Australian drama will never be forgotten. It is a very sad day for the Neighbours family,” said Rick Maier of Australia’s Network Ten, which broadcasts the soap.
“Mrs Mangel was the ultimate busybody, remembered for her conservatism and her caustic wit,” said Neighbours’ executive producer Jason Herbison, describing Gray as “a true soap legend”.