Moss­man’s fa­mous Fred ex­its

Fred Green­wood 1928-2013

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

MOSS­MAN lost one of its colour­ful iden­ti­ties when Fred Green­wood - ac­tor, stunt man, mar­ket stall­holder, farmer - passed away re­cently.

He was a large man and he lived a life to match.

Fred’s long road from his birth in Proser­pine took in life on the land and also the big smoke.

He was a char­ac­ter in real life and on the film and TV screen. Dur­ing the 1970s he was quite a main­stay of the lo­cal tele­vi­sion in­dus­try, ap­pear­ing in pop­u­lar se­ries that in­cluded Divi­son 4, Mat­lock Po­lice, Homi­cide, Rush, Cash & Co, Thou­sand Skies, Power with­out Glory, The Sullivans and Bell­bird. His films in­cluded The Ir­ish­man, Mad Dog Mor­gan, The Sen­ti­men­tal Bloke, End Play, El­iza Fraser and more.

His niece, Sharon McLean, re­mem­bers a charis­matic, im­pres­sive man. ‘‘The Un­cle Fred from childhood was a big, mys­te­ri­ous man who used to show up out of the blue ev­ery so of­ten. He al­ways drove a Holden sta­tion wagon which was ei­ther blue or brown and towed a car­a­van. He would show up with presents for my sis­ter, brother and my­self.

‘‘I used to won­der where my mys­te­ri­ous un­cle would go af­ter he left us. Then he would ap­pear on our TV and it all felt nor­mal again.’’

Fred was born into a farm­ing fam­ily - cat­tle and cane - and his early years as a ru­ral kid in­cluded a lot bar­ra­mundi fish­ing.

He left school at 12 years old to cut cane in the war years. Later on he founded a cam­era club and a car club in Proser­pine and his tal­ents at both were recog­nised.

In the 1960s he sold his farm land and set off around Aus­tralia with a car­a­van. In Mel­bourne he saw an ad for ac­tors and de­cided to give it a go. He met TV im­pre­sario Hec­tor Craw­ford and talked his way into act­ing lessons.

‘‘ Craw­ford started an act­ing school and asked Un­cle Fred to be part of it,’’ re­mem­bers Sharon McLean. ‘‘He at­tended the school along with many oth­ers, many of whom dropped out along the way. They were look­ing for the top 10 ac­tors and Un­cle Fred made the list.

‘‘He told us this year that he would go out danc­ing un­til mid­night and then go to Mel­bourne Print­ing, who printed the pa­per, and search it for act­ing jobs.’’

That’s how he found his first act­ing job and from there his ca­reer took off.

‘‘He told us ‘act­ing was easy, it was the best thing I ever did and it was good fun’. Fred met John Wayne and reck­oned he was a good bloke. The English ac­tors were bet­ter to work with than the Amer­i­cans though. He classed many of the lo­cal ac­tors in­clud­ing Gus Mer­cu­rio, Leonard Teale and Mau­rie Fields as his friends.’’

One of Fred’s side­lights was the stunt busi­ness he set up with some friends. Trail­blaz­ers Stunt Team worked in movies, TV and coun­try shows. Fred had two horses as part of his stunt team which he had trained to a high level of pro­fi­ciency, in­clud­ing ‘‘falls’’. One time, they were in Ade­laide and needed to get to Mel­bourne to ap­pear in a bushranger film. They set out from Ade­laide rid­ing the horses and tak­ing turns at driv­ing the car tow­ing a trailer, tak­ing 22 days for the trek. Fred reck­oned it was good train­ing for the horses.

The stunt crew were also trained to crash mo­tor­bikes, fall off build­ings, smash cars head on, fight with knives and cre­ate may­hem in bar brawls, fight with whips, and get hit by cars. ‘‘Fred never got hurt do­ing any of this,’’ says Sharon McLean.

‘‘I re­mem­ber as a kid it was a nor­mal thing to see my un­cle on TV. I don’t think the kids at school ever be­lieved me that he was an ac­tor.

‘‘In later years when I got mar­ried he would ring me up and write let­ters and we had great con­ver­sa­tions. He told me about his act­ing, his mar­ket gar­dens and how much he loved liv­ing in Moss­man. To the peo­ple of Moss­man that ac­cepted my un­cle Fred into their lives, thank you.’’

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