David Gulpilil, the revered Indigenous Australian actor and dancer who appeared in films such as Rabbit-Proof Fence, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker, and Walkabout, has died at the age of 68.
Before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, Gulpilil enjoyed a 50-year acting career, which included roles in iconic films such as Walkabout, The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker, and Rabbit Proof Fence.
Steven Marshall, the South Australian premier, confirmed Gulpilil’s death in a statement Monday. “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),” he posted on social media.
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awarded Gullpilil his first Best Actor Award for his performances in Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), which garnered him his first mainstream recognition.
In addition to The Tracker (2002), in which he played the title character, he also worked with Rolf de Heer on the 2006 film Ten Canoes (2006), filmed in the Aboriginal language, and Charlie’s Country (2013).
Gulpilil, an Aboriginal from northern Australia, was born in 1953 as David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu from the Yolnu tribe. As a talented tribal dancer, Gulpilil was cast by British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg as a key character in his 1971 film Walkabout, launching him into fame.
He then went on to star in the acclaimed films Storm Boy (1976) and The Last Wave (1977).