Iconic Aboriginal Australian actor David Gulpilil died at the age of 68, four years after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“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,” South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced in a statement on Nov. 29.
“An actor, dancer, singer, and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen,” Marshall further said.
Gulpilil was from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people and was raised in Arnhem land. He became a resident of the Murray Bridge in his later years.
Gulpilil landed his breakout role in the 1971 film, “Walkabout,” launching him as a pioneering indigenous performer.
Marshall said that Gulpilil’s appearance in “Walkabout” was the first time that many in Australia and in the international community had seen an Aboriginal character portrayed on screen.
Gulpilil was awarded the Member the Order of Australia, recognizing his services to the arts.
However, Marshall also said that 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,” Marshall said.
Gulpilil recently starred in a biographical documentary film titled, “My Name is Gulpilil,” in March.
Gulpilil’s film credits include “The Last Wave,” “Crocodile Dundee,” and “The Tracker.”
“Through his iconic roles, it would be fair to say David is the most recognizable Aboriginal man in the world,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said in a tribute.
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