Despite a lifelong career in the theatre which took her around the nation and overseas, local woman Mary Murphy always returns home.
Mary “really feel[s] that connection” to Hawthorn. Her mother grew up on Mason Street and taught at the old school at St Joseph's Church on Denham Street, while her uncle Charlie Murphy was the State Member for Hawthorn from 1952-55. The Immaculate Conception Church on the corner of Glenferrie and Burwood Roads is "the reason I can't leave Hawthorn. I was baptised there and my family has always gone there," said Mary, who regularly reads at mass. When she’s not around the area, Mary can be found at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the city where she has worked voluntarily for 20 years, conducting tours and compiling the archive records.
Mary remembers her childhood in Hawthorn fondly. She has stayed great friends with the people she grew up “kicking the ball with”. In particular, the children who lived on Calvin and Mason Street have kept in touch over the years and meet each year for an annual reunion.
Mary was born in 1941 and attended school at Genazzano FCJ College in Kew. Her first job, which she loved, was at an old iconic chemist on Church Street. At the time, she was studying singing intending to pursue opera, and performing at venues and on television on Graham Kennedy’s ‘In Melbourne Tonight’. One day the husband of a big casting director came in to the chemist and recognised Mary, telling her his wife had seen her on the television and would love to meet her. After an audition, Mary was cast in the musical Hello Dolly which toured around Australia and New Zealand for 18 months and “started my life in theatre”.
At 28, she returned home to Hawthorn to take care of her mother and father and began looking for local work. Mary went into advertising, casting for television commercials while acting herself in television shows such as Prisoner. After her parents passed away, Mary started up her own business right here in Hawthorn. At first, she operated out of her home near Scotch College before moving to a flat and shopfront on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. “It was an agency for actors,” said Mary. “But it had a lot of financial difficulties. I’ve always been terrible with money, and the company folded. I just couldn’t keep up.” In 1996, she moved in with a friend and they have lived together ever since. “It was only about 20 years ago that I moved to Kew, but I can’t leave Hawthorn alone,” said Mary.
Mary loves Glenferrie Road for its variety, describing herself as a “great patron” of businesses such as Boost Juice and Viet Star. “There are so many great restaurants - so many choices and they’re all fabulous!” She especially looks forward to the “wonderful” Glenferrie Festival each year. “Glenferrie is fabulous,” says Mary. “The people in the shops are so friendly and there’s a real community spirit.”