Actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu dies aged 68

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Actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu dies aged 68

Tributes are flowing for legendary Australian actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu after confirmation of his death on Monday night.

WARNING: This story contains images of an Indigenous Australian who has passed away.

Tributes are flowing for legendary Australian actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu after confirmation of his death on Monday night.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced the news after the screen legend, who walked the world stage and made dozens of films and TV shows over five decades, succumbed to stage four lung cancer and emphysema.

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

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“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),” Premier Marshall said in 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.”

Such sad news. A pioneer and one of the greats. Vale David Gulpilil. pic.twitter.com/DAmkchQ2gc

— The Long Walk (@TheLongWalkOz) November 29, 2021

The Hollywood Reporter described Gulpilil as “the beloved indigenous Australian actor who introduced the world to his culture in Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout and went on to make his mark in the blockbuster Crocodile Dundee”.

“No-one has ever looked as mesmerising in a close-up on a cinema screen,” author Rhett Bartlett wrote.

Meanwhile Deadline described Gulpilil as “revered” while the UK’s Express said the star as “iconic”. Rolling Stone Brazil said Gulpilil is “considered one of Australia’s greatest artists”.

Actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu dies aged 68

David Gulpilil in the 1970 film Walkabout. Photo / Supplied

Gulpilil, who shot to international fame as a child star with his mesmerising first film Walkabout in 1971, has strode the red carpet with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Bruce Lee and Marlon Brando.

“His breakout role…was the first time that many in Australia and internationally had seen an Aboriginal character portrayed on screen,” Premier Marshall said.

“His haunting, moving performance was equal parts devastating as it was electric”.

He has partied with Dennis Hopper and Muhammad Ali and dined with the Queen, for whom he also performed one of the ceremonial dances of his Yolgnu culture that first made him a star.

He has made “a lot of films”, including Storm Boy, Australia, the Crocodile Dundee films, The Last Wave, The Tracker,Rabbit Proof Fence, Charlie’s Country and The Proposition.

Paying tribute, The Hollywood Reporter described his performance in Mad Dog Morgan as “emotional and humanistic”.

Vale David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu. rest in peace and power ❤️

— chloe sargeant (@chlosarge) November 29, 2021

I remember presenting David Gulpilil with the inaugural Don Dunstan Award at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2003. Immense contribution to Australian film: Walkabout, Storm Boy, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Tracker and the brilliant Ten Canoes. RIP.

— Mike Rann (@Mike_Rann) November 29, 2021

In May, he told the landmark documentary about his life My Name is Gulpilil, he has stage four lung cancer and emphysema and “we have to prepare for my funeral”.

“I’ve stopped chemo, not working. I have been smoking all my life … cigarettes, ganja, too much tobacco I’ve been smoking,” he said.

“I’m crying inside for my father, I will return to my country, I will lay down in his soil.

“My spirit will return back to my country.

Directed by Molly Reynolds, and produced by Gulpilil, Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr and Reynolds, #MyNameisGulpilil is a feature #film about the extraordinary life of #Indigenous actor, dancer, artist, and screen legend, David #Gulpilil. In Australian cinemas May 27. pic.twitter.com/POSUdhHo2n

— My Name is Gulpilil (@ABCG_Film) May 1, 2021

“I was born a Mandjalpingu man … Gulpilil, my name means kingfisher, that’s my totem.”

“My name is in the fish, in the tree, in the sky, in the stars.”I’m not scared, but I’m sorry there’s nothing I can (do to) make myself stronger.”

Gulpilil was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the arts in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu dies aged 68

Photo / Supplied

“David Gulpilil’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,” Premier Marshall said.

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