In 1944, Australia was still at war and the loss of so many primary breadwinners brought hardship to all families. The need to look out for mates and their loved ones was vital for survival and it was recognised that the circumstances of members of the acting profession required urgent action.

It was in this spirit that the first meeting of the NSW Branch of the Actors Benevolent Fund was held on January 11, 1944. Those in attendance were Marshall Crosby, Ernest Woods, Harcourt Garden, Myra Dempsey, Lynne Foster, Gwen Plumb and Hal Alexander.

The first of many fund raising activities was discussed. A floor show was to be held at the Actors’ Club Rooms and a cabaret dance held at the Sydney Town Hall. A competition for "Mr Ugly" (later re-named "Mr Popular" and later still, "Mr Equity"), comprised a shortlist including Peter Finch who was also a member of the committee for a time.

A donation was made by Laurence Olivier - resulting in his being nominated as the first Patron of the ABF - and Stanley Holloway donated the proceeds from one of his shows.

The ABF was off to a flying start.

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