VALE Bill Hunter

VALE Bill Hunter – 1940-2011

At the weekend Australia lost one of our most loved and well known actors. As Bill Hunter bowed out at 71, many of us would be reflecting on just how many movies and TV mini-series in which we had seen him, playing one of his diverse range of characters. Not surprising, when we realise that his career spanned 54 years, though you’d be forgiven for thinking there was more than one Bill Hunter! So prolific were his roles that Steve Vizard commented that, by the mid 1990s, it was compulsory for every Australian film to include Bill.

Quintessentially Australian, he has been called a latter day Chris Rafferty. Hunter’s characters were true blue Australian, gruff, down-to-earth, no-nonsense. He worked with a succession of pre-eminent directors; Phillip Noyce in Backroads in 1977, and Heatwave and Newsfront, in 1978. Alkinos Tsilimidos in Everynight, Everynight in 1995 and Tom White in 2004. But for some of us who didn’t catch these movies, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli in 1981, in which Hunter portrayed Major Barton, an officer torn between obeying orders and human compassion, and commonsense, for his men, is the most memorable.

Hunter was also frequently on the small screen. One brilliant characterisation was in the mini-series, The Dismissal in which he played the equally blunt, larger-than- life, Minister for Resources, RFX O’Connor. There was also Skippy, Homicide, Matlock Police, Division 4 and Blue Murder.

Thankfully, so rich is Hunter’s body of work that we will for many years be able to continue enjoying this remarkably genuine and admirable Australian. In fact, since he characteristically continued to work until his cancer precluded it, he will appear in two feature films to be released later this year. Red Dog based on a book by Louis de Bernieres, and, a few months later, The Cup, in which he plays legendary trainer Bart Cummings.

So farewell to a great Australian and, wherever you are at 6pm this Thursday, 26th May, his family have invited you to raise a glass in his memory. Bill will join you in spirit.

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Editor’s Choice – Budget Sydney

Budget 2011