Belinda Emmett loses battle with cancer
Saturday Nov 11 16:28 AEDT
Much loved Australian actor Belinda Emmett has lost her battle with cancer, dying at the age of 32.
She died at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital shortly after dawn with her husband, television host Rove McManus, and her family by her side.
"It is with great sadness we advise that Belinda Emmett's battle with cancer has ended," her family said in a statement.
"Belinda passed away just after dawn Saturday morning at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney with her family and husband by her side.
"Those close to her have requested respect for their privacy at this time."
Emmett grew up on the NSW Central Coast and got her acting break when she appeared on popular long-running soap Home and Away, playing Rebecca Fisher/Nash, between 1996 and 1999.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, at the age of 24, the actor successfully underwent surgery to remove the malignant tumour, followed by six weeks of radiotherapy.
After a period in remission, Emmett was diagnosed with secondary bone cancer in 2001, while playing nurse Jodi Horner on the Seven Network's hospital drama All Saints.
"Our deepest sympathy is extended to Belinda's family who have supported her through this illness," Seven said in a statement.
The network paid tribute to its former actor, saying: "During Belinda's time on Home and Away and All Saints, she made many long-lasting friendships.
"Her acting ability and her warmth made her a joy to work with and her spirit will be remembered."
Emmett's Home and Away co-star Nic Testoni, who played her husband Travis Nash, said he was saddened by the news. "I am very sorry to hear that," he said.
A spokesman for St Vincent's Hospital refused to say how long Emmett was being treated at the hospital before she died, saying the family had left the premises before 7am (AEDT) Saturday.
"As you can imagine, they are very distressed," a hospital spokesman told a large contingency of media gathered outside the hospital.
Emmett and McManus were regarded as television's golden couple, meeting at the opening of Fox Studios in Sydney in 1999.
They became engaged in July 2004 and married in January 2005, at Mary Immaculate Church in Waverley, in Sydney's east.
"We're kindred spirits," Emmett told a newspaper at the time.
McManus cancelled the upcoming episode of his TV show Rove Live, with the Ten Network issuing a statement saying it was not sure when the show would return.
"Ten will give Rove the time he needs away from the show and any support we can during this very sad time," Ten said.
"Our heartfelt sympathies are with Rove McManus and the Emmett and McManus families."
Emmett's last television appearance was with McManus on ABC television's Spicks and Specks Christmas Special, in December 2005.
She was also a singer, having released two albums and recently recorded a cover version of James Taylor's Shower The People, with Marcia Hines.
An upset Hines, when contacted by AAP, declined immediate comment.
Emmett's most recent public appearance was at Seven's 50 years of television celebrations in September.
There, she caught up with many of her Home and Away mates, including Kate Ritchie, who plays Sally on the soap.
Emmett also attended the recent ARIA Music Awards, but stayed behind the scenes, watching proudly as McManus performed hosting duties.
Prime Minister John Howard said he and Mrs Howard were saddened by Emmett's death.
"She fought a very courageous battle against cancer," Mr Howard told AAP.
"On behalf of Janette and myself, I extend my deepest sympathies to her husband, Rove McManus, and her family and friends."
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley also passed on his sympathy to the Emmett and McManus families.
"This is truly sad news which I think will affect all Australians," Mr Beazley said.
"The tenderness and care in their relationship (Rove and Belinda) through their adversity, I think, has been an inspiration to many, many Australians."
Details of Emmett's funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
My condolences are with Belinda Emmett, Rove Mc Manus and thier families.