Australian actress Wendy Hughes has died, aged 61. Hughes, who was one of Australia's most prolific TV and film stars, passed away in Sydney on Saturday (08Mar14). Reports suggest she had been battling cancer before her death.
She began her career in theatre before turning to TV and film. She enjoyed parts in Australian movies such as 1978's Newsfront and My Brilliant Career opposite Sam Neill. She found fame internationally with the release of acclaimed drama Lonely Hearts in 1982.
Her TV credits include roles in shows such as The Man From Snowy River and Return To Eden.
Hughes' former co-star Neill, who went on to find success in Hollywood, has paid tribute to his former colleague, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "Very distressed to hear Wendy Hughes, loveable, outrageous, beautiful, hilarious, talented, utterly gorgeous friend has died..."
The Jurassic Park star later added a picture of himself working with Hughes and added, "The very last time we worked together, how sad - never again. That lovely girl."
Directors and actors from the Australian film community have expressed their sorrow after the Muriel's Wedding star passed away at a Melbourne hospice.
Noyce - who cast Hunter in four of his films, including his 1978 hit Newsfront - branded the acting legend "extraordinary".
He says, "He was the epitome, the absolute essence of the Anglo-Irish Australian male of the 20th century. Hunter was us and that's why we liked him and that's why us directors kept using him and why Australian audiences kept responding to him. He defined us. Hunter was extraordinary."
Meanwhile, Hunter's friend and fellow actor David Field says, "(He had) extraordinary instinct and intelligence, a very profound human being. The everyman on the street was the man he loved - from hobo upwards he didn't mind. He always had time for everyone, for all his kind of roaring bluff, he was a very sensitive and very gentle man."
Filmmaker Simon Wincer, who directed Hunter in The Cup, insists his death leaves a void in the entertainment industry Down Under, adding, "He was associated really with the renaissance of the Australian film industry from the '70s right up until the last few months."
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also paid her respects: "Mr. Hunter played a key role as an acclaimed actor in helping to define Australian culture over five decades on screen and on stage. He told us Australian stories in an Australian voice at a time when we were debating and developing our sense of national identity."
A memorial service for Hunter will be held at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne on Thursday (26May11).
The Muriel's Wedding star passed away on on Saturday (21May11) surrounded by his family at a Melbourne hospice following a battle with cancer, according to his manager Mark Morrissey.
Hunter was admitted to the hospice on 16 May (11) and his loved ones flocked to his bedside after doctors informed him they would not be able to operate.
His career began on Australian television in the 1960s and by the 1970s, he had become one of the country's most popular actors with roles in films including Gallipoli, alongside Mel Gibson, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.
In 1978, he was honoured with the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Newsfront and he scooped the Best Supporting Actor AFI Award for Gallipoli in 1981.
Hunter, who became known for playing stereotypically gruff Australian men with big hearts, was also awarded the Centenary Medal for his service to acting in 2001. He has also voiced parts in Finding Nemo and last year's (10) Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.
News of his cancer emerged on 18 May (11), sending shock waves through the film industry Down Under, with filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, who worked with Hunter in the 1992 hit Strictly Ballroom and the 2008 epic Australia, offering his support to the ill star.
The filmmaker, who worked with Hunter in the 1992 hit Strictly Ballroom, is "pulling for" the 71-year-old acting legend, who was admitted to a Melbourne facility on Monday (16May11) after refusing to go to hospital.
And Luhrmann, who also cast Hunter in his 2008 epic Australia, insists the star has been an asset to the film industry Down Under.
He says, "Whether portraying Australians fighting on the foreign shores in Gallipoli, or the hard-nut, famous-to-this-day journos seeking stories in Newsfront, to his effortless switch to high comedy in the films where we tried to capture contemporary suburban culture, in Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, and Priscilla, Bill was the go-to iconic actor to synthesise quintessential Australian-ness.
"We are all pulling for Bill in this difficult time, but we can take comfort that we will always see Bill again through the remarkable body of work that he has left on the screen."
Hunter's manager Mark Morrissey has confirmed the gravely ill star has been resting with family at his bedside.