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Rest in peace, David Dalaithngu
The dancer and actor, who spent his last years in Murray Bridge, has lost his battle with lung cancer.
One of the great lights of Australian cinema has gone out.
David Dalaithngu AM, a resident of Murray Bridge in the last years of his life, has died.
He was better known by another surname which his family, through ABCG Pictures, have asked not to be repeated for cultural reasons.
Premier Steven Marshall announced the sad news on Monday evening.
He paid his respects to the “iconic, once-in-a-generation” dancer and actor, who grew up steeped in the tradition of his Yolngu people in Arnhem Land.
Dalaithngu came to fame in the film Walkabout in 1971, but was best known for playing Fingerbone Bill in Storm Boy.
“He was a man who loved his land and his culture, and he was a man who took it to the world,” Mr Marshall said.
The actor’s last role came in a biographical film which premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival this March, then in his adopted home town in April.
Director Molly Reynolds had originally intended to document the actor’s final months.
But he lived much longer than his doctors had predicted when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 – long enough to accept a few more standing ovations.
Dalaithngu’s carer, Mary Hood, said the actor had loved making an appearance at the Murray Bridge premiere, even though “it was a lot of effort”.
She asked Murray Bridge News to pass on her thanks to the paramedics, doctors and hospital staff who had looked after him during his four-year battle with lung cancer and his final moments.
As well as Ms Hood, David Dalaithngu is survived by seven children, other family members and many more friends.
It was his family’s wish that his image continue to be used after his death, despite the usual Yolngu tradition, according to Mr Marshall’s office and ABCG Film.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story included the surname by which the actor was better known. It was later removed at the request of the family, as communicated by ABCG Pictures.
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