Since its inception in 1988, the Australian soap opera Home And Away has had numerous terrible catastrophes and deaths.
In recent years, though, the drama has paid tribute to a number of the show’s performers who have died unexpectedly, a phenomenon dubbed as the ‘Home And Away curse.’
Dieter Brummer, who played Shane Parish on TV, Ben Unwin, who played Jesse McGregor on TV, and Jessica Falkholt, who played Hope Morrison on TV, have all died in the last decade, with soap fans and celebrities paying tribute to those who left us far too soon.
The Daily Star looks into the tragedies that led to the deaths of several of the stars of Home And Away.
Between 1992 and 1996, Dieter Brummer starred as Shane Parish on Home and Away, becoming one of the show’s numerous heartthrobs.
The actor, however, was discovered dead at his home on July 24, 2021, at the age of 45, after police responded to a “concern for welfare” allegation, and the star was later confirmed to have committed himself.
Following the announcement, the actor’s family issued the following statement: “On Saturday morning, we lost our handsome, talented, humorous, complicated, and beloved Dieter.
“He has left a huge void in our lives, and we will never be the same again.
“All of you who knew him, loved him, or worked with him throughout the years are in our thoughts.”
Following the news of Dieter’s death, fans paid tribute to him on social media, with one saying: “Oh, my goodness. Dieter Brummer’s death is such a sad news. When he was at home and away, I remember seeing the story unfold. At this difficult time, my thoughts are with his family and friends. #RIPDieterBrummer.”
Another also added: “After hearing about Dieter Brummer, I’m stunned. In the 1990s, Shane and Angel on Home and Away were a couple goals. On my school books, I had Smash Hits posters of him. So unexpected and depressing.”
Jessica Falkholt, who played Hope Morrison on Home And Away in 2016, was another popular favourite.
On Christmas Day 2017, however, Jessica, her parents, and her sister were killed in a horrible vehicle accident.
The actress was airlifted to St George’s Hospital in New South Wales, where she underwent surgery before being put on life support.
On January 17, 2018, she died at the age of 29 when the choice was made to turn off her life support system, a day after her parents and sister were laid to rest.
Jessica’s relatives informed the Daily Mail Australia that they were relieved that she was “back with her family.”
They also stated: “We’re all heartbroken, but she’s now with her family. Her mother was her staunchest supporter, so I’m confident she’s in her arms.”
Russel Kiefel, one of the original Home And Away performers, played Roy O’ Neale in the 1990s before quitting the show to pursue a career on stage and as Russell Brennan in Neighbours in 2015.
Russell, however, died on November 20, 2016, at the age of 65, after collapsing while appearing in a play production at Brown’s Mart Theatre in Darwin, Australia.
Actors from both Home And Away and Neighbours paid tribute to the actor on social media, with Collette Mann, who plays Sheila Canning on Neighbours, saying: “I’m extremely sorry to report that Russell Kiefel, who portrayed Russell Brennan on @neighbours in 2015, died away yesterday. #gonetoosoon #russellbrennan #vale All of our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Katrina and his loving boys.”
In addition, Travis Burns, who played his on-screen son in Neighbours, said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Russell Kiefel’s death today. It was a true pleasure to collaborate with you. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Ben Unwin first appeared on Home And Away in 1996 as Jesse McGregor, after auditioning for a different role on the show.
He was a popular favourite as Jesse, though, and he played the part for over four years before leaving in 2000. Between 2002 and 2005, he returned to Summer Bay for another tenure.
Sadly, police confirmed Ben’s death 14 years later, after his body was located at the bottom of Minyon Falls, a 300-foot waterfall.
According to a police statement: “Police were called to Minyon Falls, Whian Whian, in response to a welfare issue.
“A 41-year-old man’s body was discovered. The death is not being investigated as a homicide.”
Fans and colleagues stars in the entertainment industry paid tribute to the actor, with Chloe Richards actress Kirsty Wright tweeting a photo of herself and Ben on filming.
“I’m utterly lost for words,” she captioned the shot, adding: “I’m sitting here, tears streaming down my face, looking through old images of us on our amazing journey into adulthood. I consider myself fortunate to have known you in the way that I did. I looked into your lovely soul, and you looked back.”
A spokeswoman for Channel 7, the Australian broadcaster of Home and Away, added: “Dieter was a popular member of the cast of Home and Away…
During this terrible moment, we express our heartfelt condolences to Dieter’s family and friends.”
“He was a treasure to come to work with every day,” Gypsy Smith’s actress Kimberley Cooper told News Australia. “To be on the receiving end of his friendship was to know unfailing support, loyalty, and love.”
Annalise Braakensiek had already established herself as a worldwide sensation after beginning her career as a model at the age of 16 and obtaining the role of Lise in the Australian soap opera Home And Away in 1998.
However, in 2019, the actress is said to have penned a series of Instagram posts, one of which stated, “Everything appears to feel twisted and upside down at the moment,” while another addressed her 16-year marriage to Danny Goldberg.
Annalise’s friends and family later called the police to report her missing, and police later confirmed that the actress had been found dead at her Sydney apartment on January 6, 2019.
Police later stated that the 46-year-death old’s was not the result of any unusual circumstances, although no cause of death has been determined.
On Twitter, actor Rob Shehadie, who co-starred with Annalise in the Australian comedy Fat Pizza, paid homage to the actress, writing: “I was heartbroken to learn of Annalise Braakensiek’s death; she was a wonderful person. I’ll never forget the wonderful times we had on the set of Fat Pizza and on tour. Annalise, may God rest your soul.”
Annalise was an activist and ambassador for the suicide prevention organisation R U OK?, according to Brendan Maher, CEO of R U OK?, who said in a statement: “We’re still digesting the information we received today.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more true, genuine, and caring spokesman.
“Nothing we’ve ever asked of Annalise has been too much for her; she’s stood up time and time again to convey our message, even when she herself was going through a difficult period.
“At this difficult time, our staff expresses condolences to her family and friends.”
After original Rebecca actor Belinda Emmett was stricken with breast cancer, Megan Connelly stepped in to play Rebecca Nash in Home And Away.
Belinda died in 2006, barely one year after marrying her TV presenter husband Rove McManus, at the age of 32, after being diagnosed with cancer.
Megan Connelly, who was 27 years old at the time, was also found dead at a relative’s home on September 6, 2001.
The actress was then believed to have died of a suspected drug overdose, according to sites such as The Independent.