|Born||John William Pilbean Goffage
26 March 1909
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||27 May 1971
|Cremated and his ashes cast into his favourite fishing hole in Lovett Bay, Pittwater|
Chips Rafferty MBE (26 March 1909 – 27 May 1971) was an iconic Australian actor. Called "the living symbol of the typical Australian", Rafferty's career stretched from the 1940s until his death in 1971, and during this time he performed regularly in major Australian feature films as well as appearing in British and American productions. He appeared in commercials in Britain during the late 1950s, encouraging British emigration to Australia.
He was born John William Pilbean Goffage in Broken Hill, New South Wales to John Goffage, an English-born stock agent, and Australian-born Violet Maude Joyce. Gaining the nickname "Chips" as a school boy, Rafferty studied at Parramatta Commercial High School before working in a variety of jobs, including opal miner, sheep shearer, drover, airman and pearl diver before making his film debut in Ants in His Pants in 1938. At that time, he was managing a wine cellar in Bond Street, Sydney.
Rafferty's onscreen image as a lanky, laconic bushman struck a chord with filmgoers in Forty Thousand Horsemen. This film was enormously popular and was screened throughout the world.
During the war, Rafferty was allowed to make films on leave. He appeared in The Rats of Tobruk (1944).
Ealing Studios signed Raffert to a long term contract and cast him in The Loves of Joanna Godden. While promoting the film in Hollywood he met Hedda Hopper who said Rafferty "created quite a stir. They call him the Australian Gary Cooper, but if he were cut down a bit he would be more like the late Will Rogers. I don't know how they'll get him on the screen unless they do it horizontally... He is as natural as an old shoe."
He was more happily cast in Ealing's next film in Australia, Bitter Springs, but the film was not widely popular either.
Rafferty decided to move into movie production and formed a partnership with Lee Robinson. They made a series of films starring Rafferty and directed by Robinson including The Phantom Stockman, King of the Coral Sea and Walk into Paradise. All were successful.
However the next three Rafferty Robinson movies failed to feature him as an actor and were financial disappointments.
While making Bounty MGM announced they wanted to use Rafferty in How the West Was Won and Chautauqua. However filming of Bounty dragged on – meant to take six months, it would up taking 14. The money earned by Rafferty – he dubbed the film The Bounteous Mutiny – restored Rafferty to financial health after the failure of his production company; it enabled him to buy a block of flats which supported him until the rest of his life.
In addition to his film work, Rafferty also guest starred in a range of Australian and American television shows, including Gunsmoke, Daktari, The Stranger, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Tarzan, The Monkees and The Wackiest Ship in the Army (as a different character to the role that he played in the movie version). In one rather bizarre role, he played a Union soldier in The Big Valley with a noticeably Australian accent. He also participated in cinema advertisements that were part of an Australian Government campaign in 1957 called "Bring out a Briton". The campaign was launched by the government in a bid to increase the number of British migrants settling in Australia.
In 1962, the 198 cm (6'6") actor was in a London club when a fellow Australian started an argument. Unaware his antagonist was a professional wrestler, Rafferty was provoked into 'stepping outside'. He received a serious beating that brought on a heart attack. Time spent recovering from the incident may have cost him the chance of roles in two major film productions.
Rafferty's final film role was in 1971's Wake in Fright, where he played an outback policeman. (The film was made mainly in and around Rafferty's home town of Broken Hill.) In a review of the film, a critic praised Rafferty's performance, writing that he "exudes an unnerving intensity with a deceptively menacing and disturbing performance that ranks among the best of his career".
Hours before he died, Rafferty was offered a prominent role in the film The Day the Clown Cried by Jerry Lewis. The film has never been completed or officially released, and is apparently unlikely ever to be.
Rafferty collapsed and died of a heart attack while walking down a Sydney street at the age of 62 shortly after completing his role in Wake in Fright. His wife Quentin predeceased him in 1964 and they had no children.
In the 1971 New Years' Honours, Rafferty was made a Member of the Order of British Empire (MBE) by Elizabeth II for his services to the performing arts. Australia Post issued a stamp in 1974 that depicted Rafferty in recognition of his work in Australian cinema, and in March 2006, Broken Hill City Council announced that the town's Entertainment Centre would be named in honour of Rafferty.
The Oxford Companion to Australian Film refers to Rafferty as "Australia's most prominent and significant actor of the 1940s–60s".
In popular culture
Rafferty is mentioned prominently by name in the single "Big Shot" by Canadian rock band the Pack A.D.
|1939||Come Up Smiling||Man in Crowd (uncredited)||Film also known as Ants in His Pants|
|1940||Dad Rudd, MP||Fireman|
|Forty Thousand Horsemen||Jim|
|1944||The Rats of Tobruk||Milo Trent|
|1946||The Overlanders||Dan McAlpine|
|1947||Bush Christmas||Long Bill|
|The Loves of Joanna Godden||Collard||Filmed in Britain.|
|1949||Eureka Stockade||Peter Lalor||Released as Massacre Hill in the United States.|
|1950||Bitter Springs||Wally King|
|1952||Kangaroo||Trooper 'Len' Leonard||Rafferty's first Hollywood-financed film, though shot in Australia.|
|1953||The Desert Rats||Sgt. 'Blue' Smith||Filmed in Hollywood.|
|The Phantom Stockman||The Sundowner||Rafferty also produced and helped write the script. Released in the United States as Return of the Plainsman.|
|King of the Coral Sea||Ted King||Rafferty also produced and helped write the script.|
|Walk Into Paradise||Steve MacAllister||Rafferty also produced. Released in the United States as Walk into Hell|
|1958||Smiley Gets a Gun||Sergeant Flaxman|
|The Flaming Sword||Long Tom|
|The Wackiest Ship in the Army||Patterson||A comedy, with Rafferty as an Australian Coastwatcher on a secret mission, and Jack Lemmon in charge of the ship|
|1962||Mutiny on the Bounty||Michael Byrne||Rafferty was in financial difficulty after the failure of some of his producing projects, but he got out of it with all the overtime he earned during the production of this film.|
|1966||They're a Weird Mob||Harry Kelly|
|1967||Adventures of the Seaspray|
|Double Trouble||Archie Brown||Filmed in Britain.|
|1968||Kona Coast||Charlie Lightfoot|
|1970||Skullduggery||Father 'Pop' Dillingham|
|1971||Wake in Fright||Jock Crawford|
|Dead Men Running|
Rafferty tried to make the following projects but was unsuccessful:
- The Green Opal – a £60,000 film about immigration he tried to make in 1951
- Return of the Boomerang (1969) directed by Philip Leacock
- In 1961 MGM announced they would use Rafferty in How the West Was Won and Chautauqua.
- Hooper, K. "Chips was denied comeback chance", The Age, 29 May 1971, p. 2.
- Pike, A. (1996) "Goffage, John William Pilbean [Chips Rafferty] (1909–1971)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press.
- "Obituary: Chips Rafferty, Australian film actor", The Times, 29 May 1971.
- The Mercury (Hobart) 13 April 1946
- Legge, J. (1968) Who's Who in Australia, XIX Edition, Herald and Weekly Times Limited, Melbourne.
- "Goffage, John". World War II Nominal Roll. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- "European Filmland" Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 22 June 1946: 12
- Mayer, J. (2004) "Lee Robinson (1923–2003)", Screening the Past. http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/firstrelease/fr_16/gmfr16.html Accessed 2 January 2008.
- "Entertainment: Miss Funicello Stars With Sands Film Is 'Babes in Toyland'; Presley Sets Four for Metro" Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 26 Jan 1961: B10
- "Mr. Rafferty...a Chips Off the Old Block" Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 27 Feb 1966: b6
- The Age, "Chips Rafferty attacked by London Thugs", 10 September 1962, p. 1
- www.australianbiography.gov.au/ Charles "Bud" Tingwell – Interview
- Sherlock, J. "Wake in Fright". Jim's DVD Review and Selections. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "CHIPS RAFFERTY, ACTOR, 62, DEAD: Australian Film Star Had Appeared on U.S. TV", New York Times 29 May 1971: 26.
- "List of Awards in Full", The Times, 1 January 1971.
- McFarlane et al., B. 2000 The Oxford Companion to Australian Film, Oxford University Press.
- Richard Davies' ″There's Never Been A Crowd Like This″ at lastfm.de Retrieved 8 April 2013
- "ACTOR CRITICISES RULING ON FILMS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 22 January 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- MOVIE CALL SHEET: 'Paradise Island' Rights Bought Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 01 Nov 1968: f22.
- Chips Rafferty at the Internet Movie Database
- Chips Rafferty at Australian Screen Online
- Chips Rafferty at Australian Dictionary of Biography
- Chips Rafferty at the Australian War Memorial
- Chips Rafferty Interview on Radio National
- Chips Rafferty at the National Film and Sound Archive
- It's an Honour