John Meillon

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John Meillon
John Meillon in They're a Weird Mob.jpg
John Meillon in They're a Weird Mob
Born (1934-05-01)1 May 1934
Mosman, Sydney, Australia
Died 10 August 1989(1989-08-10) (aged 55)
Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Cause of death Cirrhosis of the liver
Occupation Actor
Years active 1959–1988
Spouse(s) June Salter (1958–71) (1 child)
Bunny Gibson (1972–89) (his death) (1 child)
Children John Meillon Jr.

John Meillon, OBE (MEL-yun) (1 May 1934 – 10 August 1989)[1] was an iconic Australian character actor, known for many straight as well as comedy roles, he became most widely known internationally however as Walter Reilly in the films "Crocodile" Dundee and "Crocodile" Dundee II. He also voiced Victoria Bitter beer adverts.[2]


Meillon was born in Mosman, Sydney. His younger brother was director Bob Meillon (1943–2012).[3] He began his acting career at the age of eleven in the ABC's radio serial "Stumpy", and made his first stage appearance the following year. He joined the Shakespeare Touring Company when he was sixteen. Like many actors of his generation from 1959 to 1965 he worked in England,[4] but while working in in Britain he consciously steered away from Australian roles.[5] Meillon claimed that he learnt discipline while working in theatre and that television was not a good a medium for training.[6]

He had a recurring role in the TV series My Name's McGooley, What's Yours?. He featured in two episodes of Skippy in 1968 and 1969 appearing as "Nimble Norris". In 1976, he won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role of 'Casey' in the film The Fourth Wish (1976).

With his rich baritone, Meillon was used extensively in voice-over work—most famously in his work as the "you can get it any old how" Victoria Bitter narrator.[7]

He married Australian actress June Salter in 1958 and they had one son, John Meillon, Jr. Meillon and Salter were divorced in 1971. Meillon married actress Bunny Gibson ("Rita the Eta Eater") on 5 April 1972; they also had a son.

Meillon was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 Queen's Birthday Honours, for service to theatre.[8] In June 1980 Meillon's favourite pub, The Oaks at Neutral Bay, opened The John Meillon OBE Bar in his honour.[9] Meillon continued to frequent the bar over the following decade, including visiting in the week before his death.[10]

At 16 Meillon had been junior diving champion of New South Wales. He continued to enjoy swimming, as well as fishing, golf and pub culture. Survived by his wife and his son from his first marriage,[11] Meillon died of cirrhosis. His body was found in his home at Neutral Bay on 11 August 1989.[12] He was awarded the Raymond Longford lifetime achievement award posthumously.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Giles, Nigel, "Meillon, John (1934–1989)", Australian Dictionary of Biography (Australian National University), archived from the original on 26 September 2015 
  2. ^ Sinclair, Lara (13 June 2009). "Victoria Bitter douses 'hard-earned thirst' slogan". The Australian. 
  3. ^ "Bob Meillon dies; one of the great characters of the tv industry". 5 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Yates, Kerry (29 July 1964). "He proposes to his wife eight times a week". The Australian Women's Weekly (National Library of Australia). p. 15. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  5. ^ O'Neill, Josephine (3 May 1964). "The actor who won't be typed". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 44. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Owen, Wendy (7 September 1975). "Top actor just acts the part". The Age. p. 2. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Hornery, Andrew; Malkin, Bonnie, eds. (15 October 2004). "Rest in peace". The Age (Fairfax Media). 
  8. ^ "Search Australian Honours - Name: MEILLON, John, Award: The Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil)", (Australian Government), archived from the original on 2 April 2015 
  9. ^ "John Mellion – now they name a pub after him". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 July 1980. p. 53. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "John Meillon dead at 55". The Canberra Times. 12 August 1989. p. 1. 
  11. ^ "Obituary: John Meillon - A rare genius for character". The Canberra Times. 12 August 1989. p. 2. 
  12. ^ "John Meillon farewelled". The Canberra Times. 17 August 1989. p. 5. 

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