Person - Reg Lye

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REGINALD THOMAS LYE (1912 - 1988)

Reg Lye joined NT after running his own revue company in the Riverina. NT productions included a judge in a Workshop How Beautiful With Shoes 1946, a drunkard in God Bless the Guv’nor 1946 , Enemies 1946 (his portrayal of an ex soldier was reviewed as the play's best character study), Of Mice and Men 1946, Sons of the South 1947, Woman Bites Dog (in which he played a radio producer), Deep Are the Roots 1947 and a revival of A Physician in Spite of Himself 1947. He blacked up to play a tribal warrior in Rocket Range 1947 and directed Pat Bullen’s Stove, Sink and View as a Workshop in 1948. He alternated a role in Six Men of Dorset 1948 and returned to NT for Sky Without Birds 1952.

In 1948 Reg Lye married Ruth Margaret Clyne at Glebe. By 1951 the couple were living at Jemalong Weir via Forbes where Reg directed Rocket Range for the Forbes Society, a production which won best play in a local competition. In it Reg played a tribal elder Gimbin while his wife played an Aboriginal girl. At an Orange Drama Festival he won best actor as Henry Gow in Noel Coward’s Fumed Oak, and played Mr Markham in the radio play Mr Markham, Antique Dealer which he co-adapted for the stage. Selling Minties and hot pies at the local cinema, Lye wrote to Miriam Hampson that if there was a flat going he’d be back in Sydney like a flash. In 1956 he acted in the films Smiley and Cecil Holmes’ Three in One.

Lye went to England with a production of The One Day of the Year and, thinking there was plenty of work available, decided to stay but found himself unemployed for three months because of an actors’ strike. He took jobs repairing houses and after a year found an agent who “wanted” rather than merely “tolerated” him. In 1965 he got a small part in the Hollywood film King Rat set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, after which he acted in Z Cars, Dr Finlay’s Casebook and the BBC series For Whom the Bell Tolls, sharing an Earls Court flat with NT stalwart Jerry Wells. At that time there were ten times as many roles for men than women in the UK, but no prospects for any actor with an Australian accent. He returned to Australia when its film industry revived in the 1970s. He won an AFI award for best supporting actor in Sunday Too Far Away.

Reg Lye has a Wikipedia entry.


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