David Dalaithngu dies at 68

Indigenous Australian actor loses cancer fight

by Amber Wilkinson

Warning: This article contains the name of a deceased Indigenous person

Indigenous Australian actor David Dalaithngu has died at the age of 68, four years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The star - from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people - rose to prominence after starring in Nicholas Roeg's 1971 film Walkabout. He went on to appear in a string of international blockbusters, including Rabbit-Proof Fence, Crocodile Dundee and Goldstone. He was better known under a stage name that for indigenous cultural reasons cannot be used.

The star's death was confirmed by South Australian premier Steven Marshall, who said: “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 Dalaithngu AM."

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

Dalaithngu's additional films included Ten Canoes, The Proposition and The Tracker and he won a Best Actor prize at Cannes for his role in Charlie’s Country.

Actor Hugh Jackman, who appeared with Dalaithngu in the Baz Luhrmann movie Australia, paid tribute to the star.

"I join all Australians, and the world over, in mourning the loss of David Dalaithngu," he posted on Instagram.

The actor's final film was a documentary about his own life directed by Molly Reynolds and made after his cancer diagnosis.

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