On This Gay Day: Sir Robert Helpmann died in 1986

Sir Robert Helpmann died on this day in 1986

Robert Helpmann was a renowned Australian ballet dancer, actor, choreographer, and director who made significant contributions to the arts industry.

Born in Mount Gambier, South Australia, in 1909, Helpmann began his career as a ballet dancer with the Vic-Wells Ballet in London. He quickly rose to prominence and was soon appointed as the principal dancer of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, which later became the Royal Ballet.

Helpmann was known for his versatility as a dancer and his ability to portray a range of characters on stage, from romantic leads to villains.

In addition to his successful career as a dancer, Helpmann also made a name for himself in the film industry. He appeared in several films, including The Red Shoes, Around the World in 80 Days, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang –where he played the villainous role of the Child Catcher. Helpmann’s acting skills were highly praised, and he won several awards for his performances on stage and screen.

Helpmann also had a passion for choreography and directing. He choreographed several ballets, including Hamlet, which was his most famous work. He also directed several productions for the Royal Ballet, including Giselle and Swan Lake. Helpmann’s work as a choreographer and director was highly innovative and influential, and he played a key role in shaping the direction of the ballet industry.

Helpmann became co-director of the Australian Ballet, in 1965, for whom he created several new ballets. He became sole director in 1975 but disagreements with the company’s board led to his dismissal a year later.

In recognition of his contributions to the arts, Helpmann was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1964 and was knighted in 1968. He continued to work in the arts industry until his death in 1986, leaving behind a legacy of excellence and creativity. Sir Robert Helpmann’s contributions to the arts industry have made him a celebrated figure in Australia and around the world.

He died in 1986 and was given a state funeral. Tributes were paid on both houses of parliament with Prime Minister Bob Hawke leading the words of praise.

“No one should underestimate Sir Robert Helpmann’s role in the development of the growing maturity of Australia’s art and culture. … He demonstrated to the world the diversity of this nation’s talents and capabilities.” the Prime Minister said.

OIP Staff

You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login