Australian actress Diane Cilento died on Thursday night in hospital following a long illness. She was 78.
Cilento was best known for film career including her Oscar-nominated performance in Tom Jones in 1963 plus The Wicker Man, Hombre and Negatives. But she had a television career in series and telemovie including Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left, For the Term of his Natural Life, Thriller, The Persuaders, Rogues Gallery, Anna Christie and more.
Cilento was born in Mooloolaba and educated in Brisbane until the age of 15, when she went to the United States.
Trained first at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she joined the Barter Theatre of Virginia and toured throughout the South and Middle West playing children, and as assistant electrician. A scholarship to the Royal Academy in London took her to Europe, where she played on the London stage. She was also a resident member of the Royal Court Theatre for three seasons.
She was married to actor Sean Connery in the 1960s.
Returning to Australia she moved to Far North Queensland in the 1980s where she developed the Karnak Playhouse.
QPAC chief executive John Kotzas said, “She was connected in the theatre world and she brought those connections back to Queensland. She encouraged lots of people to do the best they could. She was always mentoring young actors like Bille Brown. One of the things we don’t do in Australia well is celebrate our successes and she was an icon. She was visionary.”
Several years ago she was interviewed on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton:
ANDREW DENTON: Last question: You’re going to be 73 this year. We’ll go back to that, about why am I here. Do you have any sense?
DIANE CILENTO: Any what? Sense?
ANDREW DENTON: Of why you’re here? Not, do you have any sense?
DIANE CILENTO: I thought you said, “Do you have any sense?”
ANDREW DENTON: (IN FUNNY VOICE) Are you completely mad? Do you have any sense at all?
DIANE CILENTO: Well, yes, I do. I think that, probably, I had to get to be this old to say that. While I have this sort of energy in me and life is like it is, then I shall just continue being senseless. No, I mean the person that I hope I am, or the person that I think I could be.
ANDREW DENTON: You make us feel good about being human. Diane Cilento, thank you very much.