Iconic children’s TV presenter Dawn Kenyon has died, aged 92

Sarah Keszler
Australian children’s TV host Dawn Kenyon has died aged 92.
Australian children’s TV host Dawn Kenyon has died aged 92. Credit: National Film And Sound Archive of Australia

Tributes are flowing for iconic Australian children’s television star and pioneer Dawn Kenyon, who has died aged 92.

Kenyon, affectionately known as the “first lady of Australian television”, won the heart of the nation as the first female host of a children’s show on Captain Fortune, and then on Channel 7’s Romper Room in the 1950s.

Romper Room was broadcast daily into Aussie homes where eager children lovingly knew Kenyon as “Miss Dawn”.

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Her contributions to Australian television in its formative years didn’t stop there, and she was also a talented producer and screenwriter for the show.

Born in Toowoomba in 1932, Kenyon grew up in Mount Isa before continuing her education in Adelaide and moving to the UK for work, and later Canada, before settling back in Australia.

Kenyon married her husband Fred, a British TV engineer working on the Melbourne Olympics, in 1957, and together they had three children, Steven, Peter and Anne.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, it took only 10 days for the couple to meet, fall in love and become engaged.

The pair travelled back and forth from the UK, with Kenyon choosing to step away from television to raise her young children.

However, her legacy and contribution to the early days of Australian television continued, with tributes for the former host flowing in from all over the country.

“She’s been a big ray of sunshine in my life. I am so much the richer for having known her and loved her,” one person commented on Kenyon’s obituary, published online.

“If you want someone to set as your role model, you could do no better than lovely Dawn,” another person said.

“Channel 7 did well when they chose Dawn to be the first presenter of Romper Room, which led to her meeting her devoted husband, Freddie. Condolences to the family.”

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