Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Michael Pate, a Outstanding Aussie Actor 1920 - 2008

One would think I only do a post when a celebrity passes

on, as it’s been a while since I did my last post.

I had decided to have a spell from blogging, even before

Peter from Holtieshouse had decided also to stop blogging.

Mind you Peter only stopped for a short time before he

re-started with a different format.

I had a fairly long break, and I even stopped reading those

bloggers on my list, so I must do a little bit of catching up.

This post is about Michael Pate, an Australian actor who has

just departed into that great big studio in the sky. Michael is

well know by most of the “older” generation and properly

not know by today’s cinema going younger audience.

No doubt a lot of the American audience may remember

Michael as he spent quite some time living and working on

over 300 T.V. shows and appeared in over 50 movies

(of which a lot of those where filmed in the USA).

A lot of his films I have seen and he was a well known and

loved Aussie actor. Besides appearing in films he also

produced, wrote screen plays, and directed some movies.

He also appeared in a number of live theater productions.

Michael Pate was born on 26 February 1920 in Drummoyne,

Sydney. In 1938, he became a writer and broadcaster for

the Australian Broadcasting Commission. During World War II,

Pate served in the Australian Army in the South West Pacific Area.

After the war, Pate returned to radio, appearing in many

plays and serials. Between 1946 and 1950 he began breaking

into films. In 1949 he appeared in his first leading role in

“Sons of Matthew”. In 1950 he appeared in “Bitter Springs”

with Tommy Trinder and Chips Rafferty.

In 1950 he travelled to the U.S. to appear in a film

adaptation of Bonaventure for Universal Pictures.

This was released in 1951 as Thunder on the Hill,

starring Claudette Colbert and Ann Blyth. In 1956

he appeared in the film The Court Jester with Danny Kaye.

Pate spent most of the 1950s in the U.S., appearing in

over 300 TV shows. Most notable among these was a

1953 Climax! live production of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale,

in which Pate played the role of "Clarence Leiter"

(instead of Felix, in the credits), opposite Barry Nelson's

"Jimmy (James) Bond".

Pate also said he got a reputation in Hollywood for playing

Indians in western movies, even though they involved only

10 of his 50 film roles.

Michael enjoyed a successful career as a television

character actor, appearing repeatedly on such programs

as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Branded, The Virginian,

Batman, Mission: Impossible ("Trek"), The Man from

U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Rawhide ("Incident of the Power

and the Plow"), and Wagon Train.

Just a few of the films Michael appeared in and as you

can see he co-starred with a lot of well know famous actors.

John Wayne was a close friend and he specifically asked for

Michael to appear as a Indian in the film “Hondo”.

“The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye.

“Hondo” and “McLintock” with John Wayne.

“Mad Dog Morgan” with Dennis Hopper.

A little bit of trivia: Hopper came to Australia to play the

role of Mad Dog Morgan, a bushranger, similar to the bank

and stage coach robber in the American west. On one

occasion Hopper was so high on drugs he was pulled

over by the police for apparent drunken driving and was

fined and forbidden to ever drive on Victorian roads again.

“Escape from Fort Bravo” with William Holden (the story

was written by Michael Pate).

“Julius Caesar” with Marlon Brando.

“Major Dundee” with Charlton Heston.

“Sergeants 3” with the Rat Pack.

“A Lawless Street” with Randolph Scott.

In the 1963 movie "PT 109" he played the part of Arthur

Reginald Evans,the Australian coast watcher who helped

rescue John F. Kennedy and his crew.

Cliff Robertson played the part of JFK and a host of

TV actors including Ty Hardin, James Gregory, Robert Culp

Grant Williams and Robert Blake also appeared in this film.

Michael Pate played the role of Lt. Reginald Evans.

In 1968, Pate returned to Australia and from 1971 to 1975

he starred as Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern in“Matlock

Police” which was an Australian TV crime drama series

revolving around the lives of a group of country based

policemen whose backgrounds and private lives were an

integral part of the series. At the time “Matlock Police”

had the biggest budget and was the most highly publicised

show. The town of Matlock was on the central Highway

about 100 miles from Melbourne and with a population of

17,300. Michael won a Penguin Award for best actor during his

four years on the program.

Two views of the cast of "Matlock Police".

Pate was associate producer for the Columbia Pictures film

of Norman Lindsay's “Age of Consent” with James Mason

and Helen Mirren. This film raised a few eyebrows when

released due to the amount of nude scenes of Helen Mirren.

In 1977 he wrote and produced “The Mango Tree”

starring his son Christopher Pate and Robert Helpmann

as the town drunk.

Michael in Indian costume with his son, Christopher.

Pate continued working in theater in both Sydney and

Melbourne. In 1979, he adapted the screenplay for “Tim”

from the novel by Colleen McCullough. The story is about

the relationship between an older woman (Piper Laurie)

and a retarded young man (Mel Gibson). For his adaptation,

Pate won the Best Screenplay Award from the Australian

Writers Guild.

Michael retired in 2001. He was married to Felippa Rock,

daughter of American film producer Joe Rock. He died on

1 September 2008 at Gosford Hospital, of pneumonia and

a chest infection and is survived by his wife and son

Christopher, both of whom are actors.

He leaves a large range of TV shows and movies, that with

the number of DVD’s available of movies he appeared in and

also of box sets on DVD of TV shows Michael will be with us

for years to come to watch and enjoy his many and varied

performances. He was an actor with a wide range of believable

characters and his experience in front and behind the camera

will be surely missed.


Peter said...

G'day Wazza, well at least I will be able to cark it happy in the knowledge that you will do a great obit for me, (as you do for all the other prominent Australians), I saw on TV that Michael Pate had died and hurried right over here to read all about it, Thanks.

Jim said...

Warren, nice to see you back. I hate to see these guys die off but you do them up soooooo well!
Of course I'm not keeping up with you guys very good. I do keep cheering Merle and Jen on.
Did you know I quit blogging for a spell too? But it didn't last even a week and I never did shut down my Little Photo Place. :-)

Merle said...

G'day Warren ~~ Nice tribute to Michael Pate. I was very much a fan of his earlier films like "Sons of Matthew." Glad to see a new post from you. I hope you had a good Father's Day. Take care, Love, Merle.

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