A VERY YOUNG JACK THOMPSON
Jack Thompson made his first foray into the realm of the theatrical extravaganza with his brain-child “Alice Is”, which was set to run at Queensland University Theatre during February and March, 1966. The show featured the music of Lobby Loyde and The Wild Cherries, as well as a purpose-made Brisbane band called The Rabbit Farm. It would be a spectacular night of dance, music, light shows and general psychedelia.
Jack was then studying at the University of Queensland, prior to his entry into the world of film. He invited me to contribute a slide-show to the production and come up with some lighting effects, as well as shooting some general publicity shots. I was still living at my parents’ house when Jack arrived for the first of our sessions of sorting out pictures. He was met at the door by my Mum, who could barely hide her disapproval of this ‘bodgie’ who had pulled up on a noisy old Triumph motor-bike, with his wife, Bev, riding pillion. To make matters worse, he was wearing a black leather jacket with a skull-and-crossbones on the back. “What will the neighbours think?”, I am sure was my Mum’s major concern.
At that time, Australia was under the rule of deeply conservative governments. Robert Menzies, who had remained in office since 1949, had finally retired on 26 January 1966, and been replaced by the ill-fated Harold Holt. Holt, to his credit, at least abolished the dreadful White Australia Policy. People of my parents’ generation had always respectfully referred to Menzies as The Prime Minister, or Mr. Menzies; no nick-names allowed!
A few years later, when Jack became the star of the television series ‘Spyforce’, a WW11 military intelligence series, I overheard my Mum talking to a friend on the phone... “Oh, yes, Jack is a great friend of Frank’s, and he’s such a lovely fellow”. Bless you, Mum!
Jack went on to star in a huge number of feature films, many of which are now regarded as true classics of Australian cinema. ‘Sunday Too Far Away’ (1975) was one such film, as was ‘The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith’ (1978), ‘Breaker Morant’ (1980), and ‘The Man From Snowy River’ (1982). For his services to the Australian film industry, Jack received the honour of Member of The Order of Australia (A.M.), and has received a long string of industry awards. He remains a highly sought-after performer, appearing in ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013), and ‘Blue World Order’ (2016).
The picture (above) is a severely cropped image, blown up from a full-length shot. When I sent this picture to Jack, he phoned to say that it is the only picture of him at that age. “It brought tears to my eyes, mate”.