David Gulpilil, the actor who lit up the screen in his 1971 debut film Walkabout and recently starred in a biographical documentary about his remarkable life, has died aged 68 after being diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago.
The Australian actor, whose film credits include Crocodile Dundee, The Last Wave and Charlie’s Country, was a pioneering indigenous performer bursting with talent from acting and singing to painting.
‘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),’ said South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall in a statement.
‘David Gulpilil was from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people, and was raised in the traditional ways in Arnhem Land. In his later years he was a resident of Murray Bridge. He was a brother, son, friend, father, grandfather and husband. An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.
‘David Gilpilil’s life was not without its struggles — he encountered racism and discrimination, and lived with the pressures of the divide between his traditional lifestyle and his public profile,’ Marshall added.