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David Gulpilil(c. 1953–2021), actor known for “Walkabout,” “Crocodile Dundee”

by Linnea Crowther

David Gulpilil was an indigenous Australian actor known for roles in movies including “Walkabout” and “Crocodile Dundee.”

Acting career

Gulpilil’s family gave permission for his name and image to be used after his death. His full name was David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu. He was raised in a traditional indigenous community in Australia’s Northern Territory; his exact date of birth isn’t known, but missionaries assigned him the approximate date of birth of July 1, 1953. Gulpilil became a skilled tribal dancer who was noticed by director Nicolas Roeg as he prepared to make his acclaimed 1971 film “Walkabout.” Gulpilil was cast as the primary indigenous character in the film that introduced his culture to international viewers. He embraced acting, appearing in other Australian movies of the 1970s including “Mad Dog Morgan” and “The Last Wave.”

Gulpilil went on to take roles in blockbuster films including 1986’s “Crocodile Dundee” and its 1988 sequel. He had prominent roles in “The Tracker,” “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” and “Australia.” His starring role in the 2014 Australian film “Charlie’s Country” earned him a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to his acting career, Gulpilil continued dancing to great renown as well as playing didgeridoo, and he wrote two books of children’s stories based on his culture.


Tributes to David Gulpilil


Full obituary: The Washington Post

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