Veteran actor Bud Tingwell has died in a Melbourne hospital this morning after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 86.
Tingwell was considered to be the ‘grandfather’ of the Australian film and television industry. He has a wealth of film, television, theatre and radio achievements.
Tingwell became the youngest radio announcer in Australia when he was employed at Sydney radio station 2CH as a cadet, then joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941 and was sent to the Middle East as a photographic reconnaissance pilot.
He entered the film industry in the 1950s, playing the lead in feature film Always Another Dawn. While he was wooed by Hollywood, he chose to stay in Australia working in film, radio and theatre.
Tingwell and his wife Audrey moved to London for 17 years in 1956, the actor scoring roles in TV and radio series, four Miss Marple films with Dame Margaret Rutherford and theatre productions.
He returned to Australia in 1973 when Hector Crawford offered him the lead role of Inspector Reg Lawson in the TV series Homicide. Tingwell went on to produce and direct other major Australian TV productions, including The Sullivans, Cop Shop, The Flying Doctors and Prisoner.
He also appeared in Scooter: Secret Agent, Blue Heelers and Changi.
More recently he has been seen in films such as Irresistible, Jindabyne and Ned Kelly.
Actor Jack Thompson, whose parents were friends with Tingwell, said he would be greatly missed.
“It’s like a great tree has been felled in the landscape of our culture and in particular in the landscape of our film world,” he told Sky News.
Thompson worked with Tingwell on a number of films including Breaker Morant.
“It was always a delight. He was always a generous, open and contributive actor,” he said.
“There could be no better person than Bud to be passing on his craft and love of that craft to young actors.”
Working Dog producer and performer Rob Sitch said Tingwell had told him one of his “secrets of life” was “saying yes”, because it led to new people and new experiences.
Sitch said Tingwell had appeared in good spirits when he visited him in hospital last week.
Playwright David Williamson has joined today’s tributes from the film and theatre industry, describing Tingwell as “a fabulous actor, and equally important a wonderful human being”.
“He was one of the most loved figures in the industry and a very fine actor at the same time,” Williamson said.
“There will be a lot of thought about Bud in the theatrical community today.”
In recent years he toured in the stage production The Carer.
He was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 1999 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to the performing arts as an actor, director, producer, and to the community.
Tingwell and Audrey had two children, son Christopher and daughter Virginia Tingwell, who is also an actress.