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23 May 2011

One of Australia's favourite actors, Bill Hunter, has died of cancer, aged 71, in Melbourne.

He was known for his roles in classic Australian films like Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom.

He played an Australian officer in the World War I film Gallipoli.

His career spanned more than 50 years, and he has been called Australia's favourite "ocker", because he often played an archetypal Australian bloke.

International audiences might not necessarily know the name, but many would instantly recognise the gnarled face of Bill Hunter, one of Australia's most loved character actors.

He seemed to have a part in virtually every major Australian movie of the past 40 years - and was such a familiar presence that films without him seemed somehow incomplete.

He played the father of the bride in Muriel's Wedding, an Outback mechanic in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the dancing judge in Strictly Ballroom and even the voice of the dentist in the animated film, Finding Nemo.

Perhaps his most memorable role was as an Australian commanding officer in the World War I movie, Gallipoli, when he agonised over the decision to order young Australian soldiers out of their trenches and to their near-certain death.

Often he played gruff, down-to-earth Aussie blokes - towards the end of his career, he became almost typecast in that kind of role.

But it won him the love and affection of audiences here, and he's been called Australia's favourite ocker.

He appeared in more than 60 films in a career that spanned 50 years, and he first took up acting when illness forced him out of Australia's Olympic swimming team.

For some, it's hard to imagine the Australian film industry without him


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