Iconic Australian actor and dancer David Gulpilil, best known for starring in films like Rabbit-Proof Fence, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker and Walkabout, has passed away due to cancer. He was 68. The news of Gulpilil's death was confirmed in an official statement by South Australian Premier Steven Marshall on Monday. He tweeted, "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."
It is with deep sadness that I share the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen – David Dalaithngu AM.
My thoughts are with his family, and his dear friend and carer Mary Hood.
Vale. pic.twitter.com/jFcncuYpRm— Steven Marshall, MP (@marshall_steven) November 29, 2021
Gulpilil became a big name in mainstream cinema after starring in comedy blockbusters like Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Phillip Noyce’s drama Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). He won his first Best Actor prize from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA) for his performance in Rabbit-Proof Fence. He also made a big impression in The Tracker (2002), in which he was seen as the titular character after which he collaborated once again with director Rolf de Heer for the Aboriginal film Ten Canoes (2006) and Charlie’s Country (2013). Gulpilil was honoured with the Un Certain Regard best actor prize at Cannes, including a second AACTA award for Charlie’s Country, which marked his return to films after he was in jail for aggravated assault. He was also seen in pivotal roles in films like The Proposition (2005), Baz Luhrmann’s romantic epic Australia (2008), and Satellite Boy (2012).
Born David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu in 1953, Gulpilil, a member of the Yolnu people, was brought up in northern Australia in a traditional background. He also proved his skills as a tribal dancer and subsequently landed a role at the age of sixteen in British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg's 1971 film Walkabout, which made him an overnight sensation. He went on to star in critically-acclaimed films like Storm Boy (1976) and The Last Wave (1977) and recently teamed up once again with Another Country director Molly Reynolds for the documentary about his life, My Name Is Gulpilil.
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