Bob Ellis, A Major Loss To The Arts Community

Always unpredictable, always interesting, always prolific, Bob Ellis will be a great loss to Australian literature, Australian film, and Australian politics.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BOB ELLIS, A MAJOR LOSS TO THE ARTS COMMUNITY

Always unpredictable, always interesting, always prolific, Bob Ellis will be a great loss to Australian literature, Australian film, and Australian politics.

Bob’s death yesterday at the age of 73 is a major blow to the political world and to Labor. But the arts community has also lost one of its own, a unique Australian voice who contributed so much.

A Sydney contemporary of other arts figures Clive James, Germaine Greer and John Bell, Ellis first came to prominence with his play The Legend of King O’Malley in 1970, in collaboration with Michael Boddy.

From 1975 to 1986, together with his wife Anne Brooksbank, he owned the Stables Theatre in Sydney, where the Griffin Theatre Company staged many new Australian plays and nurtured new talent.

He wrote many notable film scripts, including Man of Flowers and My First Wife in the early 1980s with director Paul Cox, as well as The Nostradamus Kid, featuring a young Noah Taylor, and Goodbye Paradise.

He co-wrote drama Newsfront with Philip Noyce, starring Australian acting legends Bill Hunter, Wendy Hughes and Bryan Brown, which won best film in the AFI awards in 1978.

The long-running comic series Fatty Finn was brought to life by Bob, who wrote the screenplay for the 1980 film and a subsequent book.

His television miniseries about the Australian Labor Party after World War II and into the 1950s, The True Believers, with its hauntingly beautiful music from Holst’s The Planets, captured all the triumph and despair of the Labor Party.

More recently Ellis was known for chronicling the drama of modern Australian politics through books and his Table Talk blog. Famously he was sued for defamation by Tony Abbott and Peter Costello for one sentence in his book Goodbye Jerusalem. He lost.

But subsequent works on everything from capitalism to George Bush to the 2010 election showed his trademark acerbic wit and willingness to take scythes to tall poppies was undimmed.

Ellis wrote speeches at various times for Labor politicians Bob Carr, Paul Keating, Kim Beazley, and Mike Rann.

He will be greatly missed, in the Labor Party and in the Australian arts community.

Labor extends its sympathies to his wife Anne Brooksbank and to their three children.

MONDAY, 4 APRIL 2016