Legendary Australian actor Charles “Bud” Tingwell died this morning, aged 86. The highly regarded veteran of Australian film and theatre passed away in a Melbourne hospital, succumbing to a battle with prostate cancer.

Tingwell’s most celebrated roles include performances in films Breaker Morant and The Castle and TV shows Homicide and All the Rivers Run. He recently appeared in acclaimed productions such as Ray Lawrence’s Jindabyne in 2006 and Matthew Newton’s Three Blind Mice, which was a hit on the festival circuit in 2008 and is expected to receive a theatrical release later this year.

Tingwell was born in Sydney in 1923. He flew reconnaissance missions to the Middle East for the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941 and entered the film industry in the 1950s. He was reportedly wooed by Hollywood but stayed in Australia working in performance arts until 1956, when he and his wife Audrey moved to London for 17 years. There, Tingwell continued his acting career, appearing in TV, radio and four Agatha Christie movies.

He returned to Australia in 1973, landing the lead role of Inspector Reg Lawson in Homicide. In the coming decades Tingwell was ubiquitous, appearing in an array of local programs including The Sullivans, Prisoner, The Late Show, Neighbours, All Saints and The Secret Life of Us, some of which he also produced and directed.

Here he co-stars with Charlie the Wonder Dog for The Late Show.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukqt7-2AGaE[/youtube]

Tingwell memorably appeared as QC Lawrence Hammill in The Castle, a role he landed shortly after his wife died in 1996. Tingwell later described his experiences on set as “the greatest therapeutic experience for me.”

The late actor’s unassuming personality and placid, carefully measured style made him an endearing performer and, in his later years, a cuddly grandpa figure of the Australian film industry.

It was not until he was 60 years old that Tingwell discovered the meaning behind his famous moniker. The bio on his official website explains that when his mother was pregnant “she had been teased by some friends at the Coogee Surf Club.” They asked “what’s budding in there?’ which became “how’s the bud?”‘ and finally “Bud.”

“I rather liked Charles,” Tingwell wrote, “but I also love the ordinariness of Bud.”

He is survived by his two children, Christopher and Virginia Tingwell.

Luke Buckmaster writes about film on Crikey Blog Cinetology.

Peter Fray

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