Vale Tom E. Lewis, the legendary Indigenous Australian actor

The legendary indigenous actor Tom E. Lewis has passed away, age 59. He died suddenly, late in the night, in his home in Katherine in the Northern Territory. Lewis’ family issued a statement on Friday morning reading:

“It is with tremendous sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of TE Lewis…Mr Lewis will be forever remembered for his compelling and enduring work on stage and screen over 40 years, as a renowned musician, and as the driving force and vision behind Djilpin Arts with his partner and his extended family of Beswick and Arnhem Land communities. He will be greatly missed.”

In recognition of his extraordinary public life, the family have agreed to the use of his image and voice.

Lewis shot to fame and international recognition following his performance as the protagonist in director Fred Schepisi’s 1978 classic The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. The film, a revenge drama about a murderous Indigenous Australian man, became a pioneering production in the Australian New Wave. The famous American critic Pauline Kael described it as “the one great Australian film that I have seen.”

Lewis’ other films include We of the Never Never, The Proposition, Goldstone and Red Hill.

In addition to being a renown screen and stage actor (with over 20 theatre productions to his name) the Murrungun man was also a singer-songwriter. Vale.