Partner Pat McDonald
Prompt Corner, Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3004, Australia
Wahroonga NSW 2076, Australia
Dorothy Cronin (9 January 1920 – 2 April 2000), professionally known as Bunney Brooke, was an Australian actress and Casting director/agent, best known for her being one of the early faces of Australian television. Known for her television, movie, theatre acting and comedy roles including the long-running role of Flo Patterson in the soap opera and movie release version of Number 96 in the 1970s (a role for which she won a Silver Logie Award), and in her later years to a new generation of viewers in her role in children's series Round the Twist (1989 and 1992) and her role as Violet "Vi" Patchett in E Street (1990).
Brooke was born as Dorothy Cronin in Bendigo, Victoria, adopted at an early age and had an unhappy early life. She was raised by foster parents, and then later joined the Australian army at the age of 18. As a young adult, she saw marriage as a means of escape, marrying Leonard Brooke in 1946. The union produced two children but ended after four years, with Brooke reporting that they were "wrong for marriage".
Brooke switched to the carefree life of a drifter with little money and few possessions. After becoming disillusioned with this existence, Brooke sought conventional employment as a clown, acting teacher, café owner and train conductor. Subsequent experiences of a broken marriage, two children and struggles with depression, illness and lack of money which gave her the depth for years later to win the Best Actress Logie for a 1974 episode of Number 96 as Flo Patterson, jilted at the altar. In the early 1950s, Brooke managed the Prompt Corner coffee lounge in Melbourne with her girlfriend. At that time, several city coffee lounges implicitly catered specifically to LGBT patrons at a time when few other commercial venues existed for them. Prompt Corner also held poetry readings and, aside from the gay and lesbian patrons, it attracted the theatrical and bohemian crowd.
Brooke landed the front cover of the edition of 28 April 1975 of Brisbane's TV Week Magazine, giving an interview of her "battle to the top" explaining being in a better position in life, career success and being a star in the earlier years of Australian TV. In April 1976 Brooke endured a heart seizure which brought her to the "brink of death" collapsing at her Rozzele home with crushing chest pains then spending 10 days in intensive care of Balmain Hospital, Sydney. It was the fourth time in 5 years suffering a similar seizure. In Brooke's case the seizure was brought on by a busy change in lifestyle over a period of months causing extreme tension which affected the heart, doctors warned she must never endure such tension again and herself determined it to not happen again. In 1976 Brooke moved into her house in the near city suburb of Balmain yet one year later rented the house and moved out due to a terror campaign which bizarrely included threats, anonymous letters, visits from police, ambulancemen and an undertaker. Brooke owned two dogs including her neighbor who each received photostat pamphlets about keeping residence dogs under control which is believed to have been the first indication of the events.
Brooke lived with Pat McDonald, who suggested her for the role of Flo Patterson. They shared the same birth year and an apartment in Wahroonga in northern Sydney. Although the true nature of their relationship was never originally detailed, many photos of them on holiday in various overseas locations were featured in magazines. Pat McDonald would later die in 1990 of pancreas cancer.
Brooke endured a nervous breakdown within the mid-1990s, which was a few years before her death. It is not really known as to why, yet Brooke did have a history within depression the earlier decades of her career.