The Australian screen industry has lost one of its greats.
15 May 2009 - 2:28 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:07 PM

Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, one of Australia's most loved and admired actors, died in Melbourne this morning from complications with prostate cancer. He was 86.

In a distinguished career spanning more than 60 years, he conquered every medium: radio, theatre, television and cinema, and made his mark in Hollywood and the UK. “I loved the magic of what movies could do. I loved film and radio,” he said in his blog.

Typical of the outpouring of sentiment from the showbiz community, playwright David Williamson saluted him as “one of the most loved figures in the industry and a very fine actor.”

Industry database lists 143 credits for Tingwell the actor, in addition to spells behind the camera as the director of episodes of such TV series as Prisoner, Cop Shop, Skyways, The Sullivans and The Box.

The Coogee-born Tingwell began his career as a cadet announcer/panel operator at Sydney radio station 2CH. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941 and served in the Middle East as a photographic reconnaissance pilot.

In 1951 he married Audrey Wilson, his sweetheart since she was 16; she died in 1996. His first film role was the lead in Australian feature Always Another Dawn in 1948. In 1952 he went to Hollywood to play Lt. Carstairs in The Desert Rats with Richard Burton, James Mason and Chips Rafferty. He was offered a seven-year contract but declined and returned home.

A role in The Shiralee with fellow Aussie Peter Finch took him to London in 1956, where he and Audrey stayed for 17 years. His breakthrough there was playing Australian surgeon Alan Dawson in the ITV series Emergency Ward 10. He was given leave from the series to make a number of movies including all four Miss Marple murder mysteries with Dame Margaret Rutherford for MGM.

Among his stage credits in the UK, he played Morell in Candida, Queeg in Caine Mutiny Court Martial, George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the lead role of Danvers in There's a Girl in My Soup at London's Comedy Theatre for two years.

The Tingwells returned home in 1973 when Hector Crawford offered Bud the lead role of Inspector Reg Lawson in the series Homicide. He appeared in some of the most memorable Aussie movies of the 70s and 80s including Petersen, Eliza Fraser, Summerfield, Breaker Morant and Puberty Blues.

More recently, he starred in Rob Sitch's The Castle, Paul Cox's Innocence and Salvation, Ann Turner's Irresistible and Ray Lawrence's Jindabyne.

It wasn't until he turned 60 that he finally discovered why his parents called him Bud: When his mother was pregnant, she was teased by some friends at the Coogee Surf Club, asking "What\'s budding in there?" That became "How\'s the bud?" and finally "Bud."

Some 60 years into his career, he reflected on his blog, “I don't have any huge ambitions left. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing.” According to, his final role was as Winston Churchill in the miniseries Menzies and Churchill at War. He is survived by two children, Christopher and Virginia.