Doris Fitton

Dame Doris Alice Fitton Mason, DBE, CBE, OBE (3 November 1897, Manila, Philippines to Walter Fitton and his wife Janet, nee Cameron, Daughter of Alexander Cameron of Penola and his second wife Ellen Keogh – 2 April 1985, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) was an Australian actress and theatrical director. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 31 December 1981. She, with a number of others, established the Independent Theatre in North Sydney in 1930 and kept it going until its closure in May 1977 after 47 years. (It reopened in 1998. ) The theatre provided a training ground for young Australian actors and playwrights.


After the death of her father Walter Fitton, she moved to Australia in 1902, aged five, with her mother Janet and older sister Ethel. She was educated at Loreto Convent, Ballarat and took acting classes with Gregan McMahon. Fitton had her first acting role in Melbourne with J C Williamson in 1915. Doris Fitton married law clerk Norbert Keck "Tug" Mason in Sydney in 1922 and had two sons Ewen Richard Cameron Mason (1925) and Malcolm Mason (1933).

The theatre provided young Australian actors and playwrights with opportunities to develop and display their talents. They staged more than 400 productions, the most controversial being Sumner Locke Elliott's Rusty Bugles.

She gained public recognition for her commitment to theatre in Australia with her appointment to the OBE in 1955, the CBE in 1975 and the DBE in 1982.

Doris Fitton Mason died in Sydney on 2 April 1985, aged 87. A commemorative plaque unveiled on 17 December 1986 on the footpath in front of the Independent Theatre states ''As You Like It: All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances..."


Her autobiography, Not Without Heat and Dust, was published in 1981.

  • Doris Fitton (1981). Not without dust and heat : my life in theatre. Sydney : Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-312035-6.
  • Philip Parsons, Victoria Chance (Ed.) (1995). Companion to theatre in Australia. Sydney : Currency Press in association with Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-86-819357-7.

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