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Vale Lillian Crombie

03 January 2024
Lillian Crombie on set of Deadly Family Portraits: Crombie Crew.

We at the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) express our deep sadness at the passing of celebrated actor and performer Lillian Crombie.

A proud Pitjintjara/Yungkuntjara woman, Lillian Crombie grew up in Port Pirie, South Australia where she trained in classical ballet, before moving to Sydney on a dance scholarship at the age of 16. After training in New York and at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), she went on to become one of Australia’s leading performers of stage and screen with roles in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, TV series The Secret Life of Us and Mystery Road and SAFC supported feature film Lucky Miles as well as in theatre productions with Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of SA and at the Adelaide Festival.

In 2019 Lillian starred alongside her daughter, actor and producer Elaine Crombie, in Deadly Family Portraits: Crombie Crew, one of a series of SAFC and ABC documentary shorts by South Australian First Nations filmmakers exploring remarkable South Australian First Nations families.

That same year Lillian was honoured with the Equity Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the Arts, with Australian playwright and artistic director Wesley Enoch describing her as a pioneer who paved the way for First Nations stories to be told.

“Her amazing comic timing is legendary. Who could ever resist the way she winks an eye and flashes her smile and has you laughing while she delivers a huge life lesson,” he said at the time.

“Working with Lillian is like a rollercoaster where she has you guessing in the rehearsal room, but when in front of an audience she never fails to capture hearts and minds.”

Australian actor, writer and director Wayne Blair also said at the time: “Lillian is considered by close friends and family a quiet achiever who has always lived humbly and dreamed big. She has survived a difficult past as a member of the Stolen Generation, embraced her legacy and forged a new one as an esteemed artist, a mother and grandmother, a supportive unionist and always a survivor.”

In 2015 Lillian founded the Lillian Crombie Foundation to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with travel, whether for “Sorry Business” when they have lost loved ones, or to visit family members who are seriously ill.

On behalf of everyone at the SAFC, we send our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Lillian Crombie. Vale.

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