She was perhaps Sydney's equivalent to Melbourne's Jan Hillier. I had heard of her and I knew she was a dyke and a Sydney VIP, but that was about my extent of knowledge.
I had no idea she was part of all the venues mentioned. Many of them I have been in or know/knew of them. She sure mixed some shady people. I book could be written on Roger-Claude Teyssedre and I expect one has been on Abe Saffron. I net searched Teyssedre and spent an hour reading about him. I already know quite a lot about Saffron.
Here is an obit written by D.D. McNichol. Although it does not say, I think he may write for The Australian, his father certainly did.
Although little known outside the gay scene, she was accepted as the
driving force in bringing gay clubs out ofthe shadows and into the
mainstream of Sydney entertainment. Ms O'Donnell, who was approaching
her 80th birthday, was still running gay pubs in Sydney's inner
western suburbs up until her death yesterday from ovarian cancer.
Born in Paddington in 1928, Ms O'Donnell first made a name for
herself as an ice-skater when she was a teenager. After she abandoned
competition, she continued as a coach before becoming a successful
butcher in the Sydney harbourside suburb of Rose Bay.
Her first venture into gay entertainment was in the late 60s when she
opened Capriccio's on Oxford Street. It was followed by Jools,
Ruby's, Patches, Flo's Palace and the Exchange Hotel. She also ran
the Toolshed sex shops and various steam baths where the still
illegal gay scene flourished.
Never keen to seek personal publicity, Ms O'Donnell was happy for her
business partners, the late controversial businessman Abe Saffron and
Roger Claude Teyssedre, to be caught in the public spotlight.
Teyssedre, who owned the profitable gay CBD haunt King Steam, died in
April 1990 and left his considerable fortune to his lover Ludwig
Gertsch - who was murdered a year later.
It was around that time that Ms O'Donnell started moving her
operations from Oxford Street and Darlinghurst to the inner-west
suburbs of Newtown and Erskineville, where she still owned the
She also took to calling herself Dawn O'Donnell Irwin.
Yesterday, her longtime friend Bruce Pollack said Ms O'Donnell was as
much noted for her quiet philanthropy as her commercial success.
"She was a tireless supporter of charities, both lesbian and gay and
mainstream," he said.
Ms O'Donnell is survived by her partner of many years, Aniek Baten.
June 12, 2007