February 22, 2012

Leone Hatherly, actor, comedian, radio announcer, writer, mother and larger-than-life personality, died at 3.15pm 21 February 2012 at Wellington Public Hospital, age 73, as a result of complications after a fall.

Born and raised in Adelaide, Lee’s passion for acting was ignited when at 16, she was cast in the film Robbery Under Arms starring Peter Finch. At the tender age of 20 she came to NZ, and following the birth of her 2 daughters Melinda and Katrina, Leone joined Radio New Zealand as an announcer in Rotorua. Later she broke new ground (as was her style) as Radio New Zealand’s first full-time female news-reader, and her ‘double drambuie’ voice was known and loved on radios throughout New Zealand for 20 years.

Always a champion of feminism and human rights Lee was integral in the organization of the United Women’s Convention inChristchurchin 1977.

Following her years as an announcer Lee made a successful career change to theatre as the memorable M.C. (Mother Chook) for Hens’ Teeth, New Zealand’s longest running comedy show. (“The trouble with jogging is – the ice keeps falling out of my glass!”)

Lee performed extensively in both film and television. She had her own children’s TV series – The Land Called Happy, written by Margaret Mahy – shot weekly in Christchurch for many years; appeared as Mogg for the TV Series of Dark Knight the story of Ivanhoe; was an elf in Lord of the Rings, and most recently acted in Two Little Boys, due for release this year.

Her stage credits included her own iconic shows The Power Breakfast and Opera for Breakfast both premiered at International Arts Festivals in Wellington. Lee had successfully battled cancer in the 2000’s, and became known for her work for cancer patients with Laughter Therapy. Her charismatic public speaking skills were always in demand. She had almost completed writing an opera with Gareth Farr and Maurice Murphy about Edmund Hilary’s climb of Mt Everest.

Lee had been a vibrant part of the Paekakariki community for the last 12 years, “in a lovely home overlooking the mortgage.”

Her funeral will be at Old St Paul’sMulgrave Street, Thorndon, on Sunday February 26th 2012 at 2:00pm. She will be buried on Monday. The ‘after-show’ function will be at Circa Theatre.

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