The Two Frank Thrings by Peter Fitzpatrick

By Peter Fitzpatrick

They shared a reputation and their actual resemblance used to be startling. And, either Frank Thrings have been large figures within the panorama of 20th-century Australian theatre and picture. yet, in lots of methods, they can rarely were extra diversified. Frank Thring the daddy (1882-1936) started his occupation as a sideshow magican, and he wheeled, dealed, and infrequently married his means into changing into the mythical "F.T." - an impresario, speculator, and proprietor of Efftee motion pictures, Australia's first 'talkies' studio. He outfitted for himself a picture of grand patriarchal respectability, a colossal fortune, and all of the makings of a dynasty. Frank Thring the son (1926-1994) squandered the fortune and derailed the dynasty during developing his personal personality - a different presence which could make such a lot phases and foyers appear small. He received status taking part in tyrants in togas in Hollywood blockbusters (perhaps his most famed position used to be that of Pontius Pilate in Ben-Hur [1959]), then, abruptly, he got here domestic to Melbourne to play probably his best position - that of Frank Thring, actor and character extraordinaire. valuable to this position was once that Frank the son used to be unapologetically and outrageously homosexual. during this compelling twin biography, writer Peter Fitzpatrick tells the tale of 2 extraordinary characters. it is a type of detective tale, following the lives of 2 males who did all they can to hide their tracks, and to hide 'the self:' Frank the daddy used secrecy and sleight-of-hand as thoughts for self-protection; Frank the son masked a completely reclusive character with flamboyant self-parody. it is also the story of a misplaced courting - and of the ability a father can have had, even over a son who infrequently knew him. "This is a wonderfully built biography, discovering a form within the lives it explores after impeccable research". The Sydney Morning usher in, October 27, 2012 In August 2013, this e-book gained the nationwide Biography Award, Australia's pre-eminent prize for biographical writing and memoir.

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1. – 40 – T he Gr e at De x ter established and well-endowed operation that some people, not surprisingly, confused with Thring’s The World’s Picture Company. Whether the remarkable similarity of name was coincidental, or, if not, who was copying whom, was never established. Given the differences in scale between the two companies, it’s unlikely that the big operators from the mainland were exploiting the name of the Johnny-come-lately outfit that had suddenly appeared under the management of the Great Dexter in the wilds of Tasmania.

Perhaps there was still a sense of secrecy in the family about some things. – 20 – T h i s m a n ’ s fat h e r When Leonora, his second wife, died in 1919, William, a sick man with no-one else to turn to, came to Melbourne to be with his son. Frank put him up in the hotel in Bourke Street that he himself had lived in for much of his time in Melbourne, and when William died in the following year, Frank buried him in a double plot that he had purchased in the Presbyterian section at Burwood Cemetery.

Frank told them both, and there’s a fair chance that one was mostly true; but which of them can we trust? • The first story, which became the authorised version, has Frank growing up in Wentworth, and then hitting the road at fourteen, working the carnival – 22 – T he Gr e at De x ter circuit down the wild west coast of Tasmania as Dexter the conjuror, and somewhere along that journey ‘running Biograph pictures’ in Tasmania in the late 1890s. 17 Where the facts are few, the sky’s the limit. It’s an impressive tale, this one about the lad who shakes off the dust and security of his home town to live on his wits in a place where he has no home.

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