Vale: David Gulpilil

Pioneering Indigenous actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM has died.

Pioneering Indigenous actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM has died, aged 68.

Gulpilil was from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people and was raised in Arnhem land. In 2017 he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and told he only had months to live.

Permission has been granted for his name and image to be used after his death, in accordance with his wishes.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said in a statement, “It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen – David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM.

“An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.”

Speaking about the documentary, My Name is Gulpilil he wrote: “I was lucky enough to meet David Gulpilil on a number of occasions – most recently in March this year at the Premiere of his last film My Name is Gulpilil, in which he tells his own story, directed by Molly Reynolds.

“This final film, 50 years after his breakthrough on screen, saw Gulpilil credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside Reynolds, filmmaker Rolf de Heer and Yolŋu filmmaker Peter Djigirr.

“He was a man who loved his land and his culture, and he was a man who took it to the world.

“My thoughts are with his family, and his dear friend and carer Mary Hood.”

Gulpilil was cast in Walkabout (pictured) in 1971, making him one of the first Aboriginal characters portrayed on the big screen.

His other film credits included Storm Boy (both 1976 / 2019), Mad Dog Morgan, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, Dead Heart, The Right Stuff, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Tracker, 10 Canoes, Australia, Goldstone, Cargo. In 1987, he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia.

TV credits include Boney, Homicide, Rush, Skyways, Young Ramsay, The Timeless Land, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Beastmaster, The Leftovers and Pine Gap.

In June a new mural by artist, Ngarrindjeri man Thomas Readett was commissioned by ABCG Film and unveiled on the east wall of TANDANYA National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, on Kaurna Country, Adelaide.

His passing has also been reported internationally including through the Hollywood Reporter.

The family of Gulpilil has advised that his name and image may be used in accordance with his wishes, following his passing.

Source: ABC

14 Responses

  1. If you have not watched this gentleman’s first movie, Walkabout…you should…he had very little English but got the part as he was a well known tribal dancer…he was brilliant…

  2. Very sad RIP David Gulpilil. Still makes me laugh when I think of the scene in Crocodile Dundee when Linda Kowalski wants to take your picture when she first meets you in the bush and when you say she can’t because the lens is on the camera. Kind of have to see it again to remember it and have a laugh. Good memories !

  3. RIP David Gulpilil. My first encounter David Gulpilil is the original Storm Boy. Might have to pull out my DVD and watch it again in his memory.

    Thank for for sharing his accolades David to remind us of the breadth of his talent.

      1. Yes I think that was the introduction to most of us around the 40-60 mark. The older folk will probably remember him first in Walkabout. I would be surprised if SBS/NITV didn’t have some tribute screenings this weekend. They screen Storm Boy quite a lot.

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