Actor Harold Hopkins dies
Australian actor Harold Hopkins, described by his family as a charmer and a larrikin, has died in a Sydney hospice from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
The 67-year-old was diagnosed several months ago, and died on Saturday at Neringah Private Hospital in the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga.
His family said he contracted the cancer in his first job after high school, when he worked with asbestos sheeting as an apprentice carpenter in south-east Queensland in the early 1960s.
He starred in hundreds of films and TV series, including Don’s Party, Gallipoli and Age of Consent. He played the local bully Les McCann in Gallipoli and the sex-obsessed Cooley in Don’s Party. More recently he played the character of Melbourne gun dealer George Joseph in Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.
Fellow actor and friend John Jarratt says Hopkins was a caring soul and had an emotional honesty which made him a tremendous actor.
“He found out he got cancer from demolishing a house in 1968 that had fibro in it,” he said.
“If you’d put money on who would get to 100 I would put it on Harold. It is the most sad, sad thing that this happened to such a beautiful man.”
Hopkins’s brother-in-law Rowland Hill said he had auditioned for a role in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming film The Great Gatsby in May, just days after he had been diagnosed with the cancer.
It was Hopkins’s chance to strut his skills in the role of Henry C Gatz – Gatsby’s estranged father – in a 1920s suit and fedora.
Hopkins knew he would never be able to play the character, but he seized the opportunity anyway.
“[The audition] was just a great opportunity to take part in the industry that he had spent a lifetime in,” Mr Hill said.
“I think he loved everything about [his work].
“He had a very healthy ego that kept him going back to it… but he was not arrogant.
“He was very much a man who followed his own passions and interests.”
Hopkins was born on March 6, 1944, in Toowoomba in southern Queensland.
He is survived by his twin brother John and five other siblings.