From his early days on the stage, Percy Hayes was known for singing and impressions; but it was as actor Rupert Julian that he made his name in Australia, then in the pictures in America. After earning a million dollars as director, producer, writer and star of The Kaiser, his directing career peaked with The Phantom Of The Opera in 1925, starring Lon Chaney. He stayed on in a mansion in LA's Hollywood Hills, until his death in 1943.Image: courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archive
The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died on 16 January 2008 in Dunedin.
Roger Mirams helped launch legendary independent company Pacific Films in 1948, and went on to co-direct Broken Barrier in 1952 with John O'Shea — the only Kiwi feature made that decade. In 1957, Mirams set up a Pacific Films branch in Melbourne. Over the next five decades he won a reputation in Australia for his children's TV shows. Mirams was still working in his 80s; he passed away in February 2004.
Since cutting his teeth on 1978 soap Radio Waves, Mike Smith has built one of the longest directing CVs in local television, winning awards en route for both drama and comedy. In 2005 he produced the debut season of Outrageous Fortune, and played a hand in its casting. He has also created or helped create shows Heroes, hit comedy Willy Nilly, The Lost Children and campground comedy Sunny Skies.
Dunedin-born actor Colin Tapley found character parts gave his movie career longevity. Tapley argued that the average time for a leading man in 1930s Hollywood was seven years. He played supporting roles in pre-World War II Hollywood films, and after the war extended his career into the late 60s with performances in British movies and TV. His best remembered film is 1955 classic The Dam Busters.
John Leigh won a legion of fans with his first television role, as nice guy cafe owner Lionel Skeggins on Shortland Street. After five years the character finally went missing in 1999 — presumed drowned — while fleeing dodgy wife Mackenzie Choat. Leigh won further fans as Sparky the pyromaniac in Outrageous Fortune. He has amassed dozens of screen credits, often playing well-meaning but offbeat characters. His screenography includes the bar-owner in Stickmen, an angry scriptwriter in soap satire Serial Killers, ongoing roles in 800 Words, The Almighty Johnsons and Mercy Peak, and a range of voiceover work.
Trailblazing broadcaster Shirley Maddock, ONZM, was making and presenting television in 1960, when the medium first began in New Zealand. After doing theatre in London and radio in New York, she went on to produce and present a series of documentaries in her homeland, and wrote a bestselling book to accompany 1964 series Islands of the Gulf. Maddock passed away on 10 October 2001. She was 72.
Ben Mitchell headed from Hamilton to Auckland in 2000 and began pursuing an acting career, soon after being crowned Mr New Zealand. Following a guest role in Shortland Street in 2000, he has become a fan favourite since returning to the show in 2006 to play Doctor TK Samuel. The character later married Doctor Sarah Potts (Amanda Billing), and became head of the hospital's Emergency Department. Aside from a number of short films, Mitchell has also starred in three feature films: cross-cultural romance Love Has No Language, comedy Curry Munchers and indie drama Broken Hallelujah.
Scots-born Erik Thomson moved to New Zealand at age seven. In the mid 90s his career took off, after he began acting in Australia. In 2004 he won an AFI award for feature Somersault, then later starred in Aussie TV hit Packed to the Rafters and NZ drama/comedy We're Here to Help. In 2016 Thomson won a Best Actor Logie for his role in TV series 800 Words, as an Australian widower who moves his family to NZ.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.