Gordon Mulholland dies, aged 89

2010-07-01 15:54

Johannesburg - Gordon Mulholland, the actor who gained fame through the television soap opera The Villagers and the movie Jock of the Bushveld, died in East London on Wednesday night.

He was 89.

Mulholland's close friend, actor Clive Scott, described him as a "great charmer" who was extremely difficult at times.

"I have a million memories of Gordon," he said.

"We worked together a lot. We took shows on the road. We co-produced shows. He was very funny. He always entertained me.

"We used to go out for coffee in Melville every Tuesday. He loved being recognised.

"Gordon was a great charmer. But he was difficult at times."

For the troops

Mulholland started his career as a stand-up comic in England during World War Two where he used to perform for the troops.

Mulholland spoke of one incident where a fellow stand-up comic told him he would raise a lot of laughs that day, because he had a lively audience.

When Mulholland went out on stage for his performance, he was met with dead silence.

"There was not a sound from this lot. The other comics were paralysed with laughter. What they didn't tell Gordon was that this was a group of Polish troops who didn't speak a word of English."

Mulholland then went on to perform at The Windmill theatre in London, where he worked among the nudes.

Audrey Hepburn

One of Mulholland's girlfriends at the time was the academy award winning actress, Audrey Hepburn, who starred in My Fair Lady.

He progressed into theatre, where he performed and produced his own shows.

Mulholland worked his way into the film industry through small parts on British films, including a role in Disney’s version of Treasure Island.

He moved to South Africa in 1967 and started a successful career in theatre and radio.

From 1976 to 1978 Mulholland starred as the mining boss, Hilton McRae, in the television show, The Villagers.

The big star

"When we started in Villagers, you couldn't go anywhere without people grabbing you," Scott recalls.

"Gordon was the big star in that one. He was the mining boss Hilton McRae. We did 76 episodes of Villagers. It was amazing. Gordon had an enormous impact on the South African public."

When The Villagers ended its run, Scott and Mulholland took the show Community of One to the road.

"I played the lead in that one. We toured all around the country."

Jock of the Bushveld

In 1986 Mulholland starred alongside Jonathan Rands in the movie version of Jock of the Bushveld, about a runt dog that becomes a trusted companion of an Irish adventurer named Percy Fitzpatrick.

Mulholland's health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke last year.

He moved to East London and moved in with his son.

He told Scott that to have a stroke was "the worst thing in the world".

Mulholland was married twice.

He had one son with his first wife in England and two sons with his second wife, Diane Wilson, who was also an actress.

The last film he played in was Traitor’s Heart in 1999 starring Scott and Gavin Hood.


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