Warning: This story contains the name and images of a deceased Indigenous person.
Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu, one of Australia’s greatest artists, has died at the age of 68, four years after he was diagnosed with lung cancer local media reported.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall confirmed the news in a statement late on Monday night (AET).
“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 on screen – David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu,” the statement read.
“An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.”
Marshall said Dalaithngu’s life was not without struggles. “He encountered racism and discrimination and lived with the pressures of the divide between his traditional lifestyle and his public profile,” the premier said.
Dalaithngu, an Indigenous man from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolngu people, was born and raised in north-east Arnhem land and lived his final years in Murray Bridge, a town 75 kilometres east of the Australian city of Adelaide. The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“David Dalaithngu AM has forever changed the way Australian film represents Indigenous people and their cultural heritage.” Said the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
He has acted in some of Australia’s most iconic and successful films, including Storm Boy (1976), Crocodile Dundee (1986), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Australia (2008).
Earlier in 2021, the documentary about David’s life, My Name is Gulpilil was released.
“I’m only waiting,” he can be heard saying in the documentary.
“I’m walking like across the desert of country – long, long way – until the time comes for me.”