Actor David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu, considered one of Australia’s greatest Aboriginal artists, has died at the age of 68, four years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gulpilil’s death was confirmed on Monday night in a statement by South Australian premier Steven Marshall. “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 onscreen — David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu (AM),” he said.
Gulpilil grew up in the Northern Territory of Australia as a member of the Mandjalpingu clan of the Yolngu people, attending school in the Maningrida Aboriginal community and developing skills in hunting, tracking, and dance. His abilities as a ceremonial dancer landed Gulpilil his breakout role in Nicolas Roeg’s 1971 film Walkabout. Gulpilil became a fixture of Australian cinema, appearing in Storm Boy, The Last Wave, and The Right Stuff, before crossing over in his role as Neville Bell in the Crocodile Dundee films. In 2014, Gulpilil was awarded the Un Certain Regard Best Actor award at Cannes for the film Charlie’s Country. In addition to acting, Gulpilil continued his renowned career in traditional dance, organizing dance troupes for competitions, festivals, and national events; he danced at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. Earlier this year, he attended the premiere of a documentary about his life, titled My Name Is Gulpilil. He is survived by his two daughters.