Jack Charles (actor)

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Jack Charles (born 5 September 1943) is an Australian Aboriginal actor, musician, potter, and Aboriginal elder.[1] Born at Cummeragunja Mission on the Murray River, Charles was raised in a boys' home in Box Hill, suburban Melbourne, where he was the only Indigenous child.[2]

Charles was involved in establishing Indigenous theatre in Australia.[3] In 1971 he co-founded with Bob Maza Nindethana ('place for a corroboree') at The Pram Factory in Melbourne, Australia's first Indigenous theatre group. Their first hit play was called Jack Charles is Up and Fighting.[2] In 2010, Ilbijerri Theatre staged his one-man show called Jack Charles v The Crown, at the Melbourne Festival.[1]

In 1972 Charles auditioned for the role of the Australian Indigenous title character in the television show Boney but was knocked back because they were "looking for an actor with blue eyes." The job went to New Zealand-born James Laurenson, an actor of Sri Lankan descent.[2]

In 1974 Jack played Bennelong in the stage production of Cradle of Hercules which was presented at the Sydney Opera House as part of its opening season. Also in the cast was a very young David Gulpilil. In 2012 Charles performed in the Sydney Festival production I am Eora.[4]

Stage work includes Jack Davis' play "No Sugar" for the Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth.

His screen credits include the landmark Australian film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith[5] (1978), Bedevil (1993), Blackfellas (1993), Tom White (2004) and the upcoming Pan (2015), among others.[6]

Jack Charles was the subject of Amiel Courtin-Wilson's 2008 documentary Bastardy[7] which followed him for seven years. The film's tagline describes him as: "Addict. Homosexual. Cat burglar. Actor. Aboriginal." The film was in the official selection for Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and Sheffield Doc/Fest film festivals.


  1. ^ a b "Jack Charles V The Crown". Melbourne Festival 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Anna Krien, Anna (October 2010). "Blanche’s Boy". The Monthly (61). Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Documented in 'Bastardy'
  4. ^ Sydney Festival. "I am Eora". Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  5. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077318/fullcredits#cast
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0153048/
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1310363/

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