Renée Scott died from a heart attack at her Melbourne home on Sunday 25 March aged 61. Now we must sadly farewell our legend of the Melbourne stage whose career spanned over 40 years.
Renée starred at Pokeys at the Prince of Wales for 14 years, and was one of the troupe of Melbourne Les Girls from 1970.
But it was as one of the Pokeys Dreamgirls, along with Debra Le Gae, Terri Tinsel and Michelle Tozer, that she is best remembered.
Renée lived a block from the Prince of Wales which was her second home. She was the hotel’s favourite barmaid since the late 1990s.
She grew up in Chelsea, the oldest of three boys, going to Chelsea State School and then Aspendale Tech. She became a fully qualified carpenter, but she also went to music and ballroom dancing classes – little did she know those classes would help usher in a career spanning the rest of her life.
Going to Sydney as an adventurous 21-year-old, she worked as a boy but lived as a girl. When she came back to Melbourne she went with her brother to see Les Girls at the Ritz and thought how glamorous they all looked. She naively rang and asked for a job. She got it, and getting into the show at Olivia’s in 1973 was one of the greatest things that ever happened to her. Her big number was Night and Day with Graham Pengilly.
Doug Lucas and Jan Hillier invited Graham and Renée to do Night and Day at Pokeys about three weeks after it opened in 1977. She starred there for the next 14 years. It was the best dressed show to ever exist in Melbourne, and Renée claimed this was due to Jan Hillier’s diligence. She performed And I’m Telling You for seventeen weeks in a row to standing ovations.
She never thought her performance was anything out of the ordinary. Others put it down to that indefinable ‘it’ quality they had in the ‘30s. But the fear of giving a bad performance became all consuming to her and she was never truly happy with any one performance, always thinking she could have done a little bit better.
Renée had a very dry wit, and great sense of humour. Her dancing partner Graham Pengilly agreed: “I don’t think she ever realised how popular and talented she was,” he says. “She was vulnerable – that’s why she was such a good performer – the best dance partner I’ve ever had.
“She had a real flair and panache that you talk about. Performing was something she just loved – the one chance where she got the opportunity to show who she was as a person and a performer.”
Later working in the bar at the Prince, Renée never lost her amazing mystique. People were still in awe to meet her. Even pulling beers behind the public bar she was a star.
Renée’s funeral will be held at the Ormond Hall at 2.30 pm on Wednesday 4 of April, 557 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Entrance off Moubray Street, between Punt Road and St Kilda Road. Afterward a memorial function at the Prince of Wales.
Update April 5, 2012 – see photos from Renee Scott’s funeral below.
April 4th, 2012