Pioneer Indigenous actor, dancer, singer and artist David Dalaithngu has died aged 68

Pioneer Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu AM has passed away at the age of 68.

Dalaithngu was from the Mandhalpuyngu clan of the Yolŋgu people and was raised in Arnhem Land.

DISCLAIMER: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a deceased person.

Dalaithngu was better known by a different last name at the height of his fame, but the ABC has been advised that due to indigenous cultural reasons this name cannot be used.

Wityana Marika, son of Dalaithngu by tradition and Higher Ground actor of the Rirritjingu clan, said the Yolŋgu man left a legacy.

“We mourn the loss of our famous man Yolŋgu who started a great journey on his own. This name he carried speaks for itself. This name he carried, he was born powerful,” he said. he declares.

News of the actor’s passing was shared in a statement by South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall.

“It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic artist of a generation who shaped the history of Australian cinema and Aboriginal representation on screen – David Dalaithngu AM, “the statement said. .


Dalaithngu was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and was told he only had a few months to live.

A documentary about his life was created as a result of the diagnosis – about the actor’s journey.

Mr Marshall wrote: “I have been fortunate enough to meet David Dalaithngu on several occasions – most recently in March of this year at the premiere of a documentary on his life – in which he tells his own story, directed by Molly Reynolds.

The latter film, 50 years after its on-screen breakthrough, saw David Dalaithngu credited for the first time in his production career – alongside Reynolds, filmmaker Rolf de Heer and filmmaker Yolŋgu Peter Djigirr.

“He was a man who loved his land and his culture, and he was a man who introduced him to the world.”

Speaking from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, Wityana Marika said family from Ramingining and Melbourne will communicate about plans to bring the actor back to his homeland for a ceremony.

“The ceremony will take place in his native country (Marwuyu). Every actor who wants to come by the name will call them in their homeland, ”he said.

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The images contain a rare glimpse into the early career of legend David Dalaithngu.

Pioneer of the big screen

Dalaithngu was cast in Walkabout in 1971, making him one of the first Indigenous characters portrayed on the big screen.

He was also celebrated for his role in the 1976 film Storm Boy.

In 1987 he was awarded the Order of Australia.

Dalaithngu’s family have indicated that his name and image could be used according to his wishes after his death.

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