The popular TV and stage actor, best known for portraying ‘Prisoner’s’ Franky Doyle, has passed away aged 68.

One of Australia’s most popular and versatile actors and directors, Carol Burns, has died aged 68 at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital following a short battle with cancer. Her partner of 36 years, composer and musician Alan Lawrence, was with her by her bedside when she passed away yesterday afternoon.

Burns was a founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company in 1969 and since then has starred in numerous productions for the company alongside other Australian acting greats such as Geoffrey Rush and Billie Brown. As recently as this year Burns has continued to delight QTC patrons, appearing as the leading role in the company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days in July to rave reviews.

Burns also regularly appeared with Australia’s other top theatre troupes, including Brisbane Arts Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Nimrod Theatre Company and the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Initially cutting her teeth as an actor exclusively on the theatre stage, Burns entered the television arena in the late seventies, appearing in many of the era’s most popular shows including Blue Heelers, Reef Doctors, All the Rivers Run, The Day of the Roses and Medivac. Unquestionably her most iconic television role, for which she won a Logie, was the leather-clad bikie lesbian Franky Doyle in 0-TEN’s Prisoner. Appearing in just 19 episodes in 1979, locking horns on screen with the bullish Bea Smith and famously coining the phrase “vinegar tits,” Burns’ performance made her an instant hit with viewers.

Following her success on Prisoner, Burns’ career would take her to London’s West End and lead to several guest appearances on many British TV staples including The Bill, Taggart, Casualty, and Heartbeat. She would also appear in several films, including The Mango Tree, Bad Blood, Strikebound, Dusty, Gettin’ Square and Tracks to name only a few.

Burns was also a passionate advocate for actors rights and theatre education. She was a Patron of The Independent Theatre (Eumundi) and Fame Theatre School, President of the Actors Equity Queensland and a member of the National Performance Committee. She was also an Associate Artist of the Queensland Theatre Company and Queensland Arts Council/Artlink.