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23 July 1946
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23 July 1946
Abigail (born Abigail Rogan, 23 July 1946, in London, England) is an actress who emigrated to Australia in 1968 and via the medium of television became one of that country's significant sex symbols of the mid-1970s. Although born in England, she was educated in France. Her mother (maiden name Joachim) was a Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) of Dutch Burgher/Eurasian ethnicity. Abigail came to Australia in 1971 to appear in the female lead in There's a Girl in my Soup in Perth.
Known simply as "Abigail", she became best known to Australians as a sex symbol, starting with the television soap opera Number 96 in the early 1970s. Despite common belief, she did not appear nude in the series.
Abigail began in show business in the UK, appearing in the TV shows Robin Hood and Continental Theatre. After arriving in Australia in 1971, she studied civil engineering at university and acted on the side, gaining the female lead in a theatrical production of the comedy There's a Girl in My Soup on stage in Perth, Western Australia. She moved to Sydney, New South Wales and appeared in a television advertisement with Phil Silvers and the TV series Delta.
From 1972 to mid-1973, Abigail appeared in the Network Ten sexed-up soap opera, Number 96 as Bev Houghton. She was promoted as a sex symbol and she became "Australia's undisputed number 1 female sex symbol in the early 1970s" through her role, which provided fleeting nude glimpses. As the show's most famous sex symbol many people assume that Abigail was the first woman to appear topless on Australian television; however, that credit belongs to fellow cast member Vivienne Garrett in the same series. To the surprise of her television fans, Abigail left the cast of Number 96 in mid-1973, and her character of Bev Houghton went to Victoria Raymond (a.k.a. Victoria Resch), real life sister of Candy Raymond who had been written into the series shortly before Abigail's departure and also presented as a sex symbol.
In 1973, after leaving Number 96, she published her autobiography, Call Me Abigail which sold 150,000 copies in its first two weeks of sale. Also in 1973, Abigail made an attempt at a popular music career and scored a hit with a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Je t'aime... moi non plus", which reached the top 10 in Australia. Although this debut was a success, follow-ups, including a comedic release with ventriloquist Chris Kirby, were not.
During this period she appeared in a series of brief cameo roles in a string of sex comedy films such as Alvin Purple (1973), and its 1974 sequel Alvin Purple Rides Again. In 1974, Abigail would perform a striptease in the burlesque comedy, The Legend of San Peel in The Barrel Theatre a well-known strip palace in Kings Cross, while struggling to find serious acting jobs. In 1975, in a brief return to television she appeared in Class of '75 for three weeks as a prim French Senior Mistress in a black wig and frumpy spectacles. Also in 1975 she played Esmerelda in The True Story of Eskimo Nell and appeared in a full frontal nude scene, although the first by a female in an Australian film was Rebecca Gilling in the movie version of Number 96 (1974), and in 1976, she made a nude cameo appearance in another bawdy comedy Eliza Fraser.
Abigail returned to Number 96 for a two episode appearance in November 1976. This new comedy character, the oft-divorced Eve, would potentially appear in a spinoff series, Fair Game, which never eventuated. She also appeared in a recurring sketch in comedy series The Norman Gunston Show called The Checkout Chicks. This sketch, a send-up of melodramatic soap operas set in a supermarket, mostly featured other former Number 96 actors - Vivienne Garrett, Candy Raymond, Philippa Baker, Judy Lynne and Anne Louise Lambert. (Fans of the long-running Number 96 television series will be aware that the show was finally cancelled in July 1977). In 1977, Abigail appeared in the hospital-based series The Young Doctors as super-efficient secretary Hilary Templeton who worked for a celebrity patient of the hospital. In the show, her boss is murdered and she leaves the storyline, only to later return with her character now running the company of her former boss. Also in 1977 she had a cameo role in film Summer City, which is notable for being the first to have Mel Gibson in a major role.
Abigail had some success in the theatre, specialising in comedy roles. She toured New South Wales and Queensland with the stage farce A Bedfull of Foreigners in 1983. In 1984 she appeared in Melvin, Son of Alvin. In 1985, Abigail scored a regular role in another soap opera Sons and Daughters, playing the role of Caroline Morrell, alongside Normie Rowe, a role she continued until the series ended in 1987. In 1988, she appeared in Breaking Loose (1988). In 1989 she co-starred in Elly & Jools playing the crazy Country & Western singer wannabe, Dulcie Dickson. In 1990 she was appeared in Sher Mountain Killings Mystery and was a regular cast member of short-lived soap opera Family and Friends and in 1991 appeared in Chances. In 1994 she presented a prime-time repeat of the 1977 Number 96 retrospective, And They Said It Couldn't Last.
Her last television appearance was in 2002, when she briefly became a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. She claimed to have lost 17 kilograms in seven weeks.
In March 2011, Australian current affairs program Today Tonight produced a story on Abigail, claiming her to be a squatter in a derelict church. A rebuttal story was aired the following evening by rival current affairs program, A Current Affair. In actual fact she had been living there with permission, with her husband as her home had been partially destroyed by floods. Her damaged home was being prepared for rebuilding. The Today Tonight story captured some hidden camera footage of Abigail. She did not appear on camera consensually.
The track "Please Terry Do It One More Time" is the one that features Chris Kirby.