Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Michael Pate: 1920 - 2008

Sad to report that actor Michael Pate has passed away overnight at the age of 88. A true renaissance man, he served in the South Pacific during World War II, acted in film and television and won an Australian Writers Guild award for adapting the screenplay for the movie Tim which he also produced and directed and helped develop a young Mel Gibson. He also wrote a number of teleplays for television back in the '50s and '60s.

It surprised me to discover years ago that Pate, who'd I'd always assumed to be an Australian only exclusive actor, had such a rich history in film in the USA and UK. Indeed he was a worldwide actor and by all accounts appeared in over 300 television shows in the USA along with movies alongside luminaries such as Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis and many more before returning home to Australia to apply what he learnt in the local scene. He was never an attractive man by any account, but he was an actor who managed to enhance any movie he appeared in solely by managing to act to the role and resist any over-acting. He never 'chewed the scenery' instead preferring to act to the requirements of the role at hand with a skill that he clearly learnt through quiet observation.

He did manage to make a few stinkers though with the nadir of his career coming when he appeared as a gun-slinging vampire in the B-Grade classic Curse Of The Undead, a film so bad it provided the appropriate still used here. Still, we forgave him that because he appeared in Matlock, not the geriatric detective show from America, but the classic Australian cop drama of the 1970s. For the trivia freaks, well he appeared in the Batman series and was the first Clarence Leiter in the first James Bond adaptation.

He retired from the screen some years ago and has been missed since then. He will be missed even more from today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He was a supporting actor in my favorite western TV shows, like Wanted: Dead or Alive and the Rifleman. I never knew he appeared in Batman! Wow, he was in some incredible TV shows. Definitely a throw-back actor. Sorry to hear about his passing.

George "The Stooges"