Veteran Aussie actor Bill Hunter dies

Bill Hunter was perhaps best known for his role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Photo / Getty Images
Bill Hunter was perhaps best known for his role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Photo / Getty Images

Veteran Australian actor Bill Hunter has died at the age of 71 surrounded by family and friends at a Melbourne hospice after a battle with cancer.

His long-term manager Mark Morrissey confirmed the death of the much-loved star, famous for roles in Muriel's Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

"Bill was much-loved, a gentleman, an inspiration to fellow actors, a journeyman, and a rogue," Mr Morrissey told AAP.

"He was a fine actor, a true storyteller and a great friend. He will be sorely missed."

In a lengthy statement, Mr Morrissey said Hunter touched the lives of many throughout his long and esteemed career, which included roles in films as diverse as the Peter Weir-directed Gallipoli and Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom.

Mr Morrissey said Hunter summed up his approach to his craft in a recent interview for the feature film The Cup, in which he played Australian racing legend Bart Cummings.

Hunter said: "As long as the director told me where to stand and what to say, I was happy.

"Anyone who says there's any more to it than that, is full of b******.

"It's a job. It is a craft but there's no art involved.

"What you need is common sense and a reasonably rough head.

"You put on the makeup and the wardrobe and that is half the performance.

"That upsets the purists but never mind, they don't work as much as I do."

Australian entertainers used Twitter to pay their respects.

Comedian and television host Adam Hills tweeted: "Saddened to hear of Bill Hunter's passing. Honoured to have worked with him. A giant of a man in every sense."

Dancing with the Stars host Daniel MacPherson tweeted: "Legend of the screen. Legend of a man."

Entertainer Marty Fields described his close friend as "an iconic Australian actor", telling Fairfax Radio his death was a "huge loss to the entertainment industry".

The 71-year-old actor was admitted to the Caritas Christi hospice six days ago after refusing to go into hospital.

Hunter's acting career has spanned more than 50 years and 100 film and television productions.

A memorial service will be held at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne on Thursday (May 26) at 2pm.

- AAP

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