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Legendary Australian actor, Bill Hunter, dies at age 71

posted 22 May 2011, 06:32 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 22 May 2011, 06:35 ]

Tributes flow in as one of Australia's best loved actors, Bill Hunter, dies from liver cancer in Melbourne 

POLYGRAM/AUSTRALIAN FILM FINANCE CORPORATION - Australia's acting world was in mourning on Sunday (May 22) after veteran actor, Bill Hunter, died on Saturday (May 21) at a Melbourne hospice after losing his battle with liver cancer.

Hunter had a career which spanned 50 years and made appearances in over 100 big and small screen productions.

He worked with Mel Gibson in Peter Weir's "Gallipoli" (1981), played the meddling ballroom federation president Barry Fife in Baz Luhrmann's cult classic, "Strictly Ballroom" (1992) and starred with Toni Collette as her conspiring father in "Muriel's Wedding" (1994). He also starred in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert" (1994).

More recently, Hunter worked on Baz Luhrmann's film, "Australia," with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

Members of Australia's entertainment community paid tribute to the actor.

"He was a giant of a man, an icon, he will be sorely missed, he was irreplaceable. There is only one Bill Hunter," said Australian comedian and personality, Mick Molloy.

Friends said Hunter will be remembered as someone who enjoyed life.

"He was one of those here for a good time not a long time sort of blokes and he enjoyed every minute. You know even when he found out he was quite sick he didn't want to know about hospital, he just had a beer and said 'oh well we'll see how we go,'" said Marty Fields, a friend and admired Australian personality.

The last film Hunter had acted in was "The Cup," where he played horse racing legend, Bart Cumming. He was directed in that by long time friend, Simon Wincer.

"And he was just a good human being and a bit of a loveable rogue," Wincer said.

Hunter died surrounded by friends and family, including Wincer, at the Caritas Christi Hospice in Melbourne.

A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday (May 26).