Acclaimed actor dies

2010-07-01 14:38

Gordon Mulholland, the

actor who gained fame through the TV soap

opera The Villagers and the movie Jock of the Bushveld, died in East

London in

the Eastern Cape last 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


of Gordon. 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


Mulholland started his

career as a stand-up comic in England during

World War II where he used to perform for the troops.

He 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.


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


He said: “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.”

He then went on to perform

at The Windmill theatre in London where

he worked among the nudes. One of his girlfriends at the time was the


Award-winning actress, Audrey Hepburn, who starred in My Fair Lady.

He progressed into theatre,

where he performed and produced his own


Mulholland worked his way

into the film industry through small

parts on British films, including a role in Disney’s version of Treasure


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

theatre and


From 1976 to 1978 he

starred as the mining boss, Hilton McRae, in

the TV show, The Villagers.

Scott recalls: “When we

started in Villagers, you couldn’t go

anywhere without people grabbing you. Gordon was the big star in that

one. He

was the mining boss Hilton McRae. We did 76 episodes of Villagers. It


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 on the road.

“I played the lead in that

one. We toured all around the country,”

said Scott.

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.

Prior to his death, he told

Scott that to have a stroke was “the

worst thing in the world”.

Mulholland was married

twice. He had a son with his first wife in

England and two sons with his second wife, Diane Wilson, who was also an


The last film he starred in

was Traitor’s Heart in 1999 starring

Scott and Gavin Hood. And his last radio stint was on Radio Today, where

he had

a daily show around five to six years ago.

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