Person - Frank Callanan

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FRANK CALLANAN

Nicknamed “Fatty” and "Cal", he was described by Oriel Gray as having a face like a bulldog but a kind and gentle personality. He played John in the first production of Waiting For Lefty in January 1936, a Stormtrooper in Till The Day I Die 1936 and a Sergeant in Bury the Dead 1937, followed by The Brave and the Blind 1938, Remember Pedrocito 1938, Transit 1938 , Joe in The Home of the Brave 1938, the bishop in Cannibal Carnival 1939, Plant in the Sun 1939, the strike leader (reviewed as an Australian in blackface reeling off Marxist dogma) in Colony 1940, a Broken Hill miners’ delegate in No Conscription 1940, Boxer in New Way Wins 1940, The Gentle People 1940, Waiting For Lefty and Private Hicks 1941, Mussolini in Marx of Time 1942, Golden Boy 1943, and The Eve of St Mark 1944.

Like Tommy Morrison, Frank Callanan was in trouble with the law in Darwin during the Depression when a number of unemployed workers damaged government property. Callanan broke windows in the Mines Dept building.

On 31 December 1934 Callanan was involved in a New Year’s Eve brawl at a Workers Art Club (WAC) dance after a dozen youths were refused admission at 2.30 am. They were finally driven off but Frank (then aged 24, his address Palmer St East Sydney) was taken to Sydney Hospital with head injuries from a bottle or stick. At a time when a quart of beer cost 1/9 (1/6 if you took your own bottle), the pubs shut at six o’clock, and no beer was kept on the WAC premises, Frank had a hiding place for his own supply. He was spied drinking a “snort” by a group of young men who followed him to the WAC and set upon him. Among those who rushed downstairs to Frank’s aid were members of the Workers’ Defence Corps, tough grassfighters who’d taken part in evictions protests. The Rocks mob retreated. After this incident "Shorty" Jones and Tommy Morrison slept on the premises and kept door duty.



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