Person - Tim O'Sullivan

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TIMOTHY JAMES O’SULLIVAN (ca 1894 - 1970)

Tim O'Sullivan was a regular actor in WAC shows. In 1933 he played the part of the Chairman in his wife Nellie Rickie’s The Emissary in which Nellie played Mary London. In the same year he played Rushton, a boss, in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, was "clear and effective" as Mooney in The Spy, portrayed Prime Minister Joe Lyons and a couple of other characters in the political satire Giving Away the Northern Territory and was Petruchio in a sketch Taming of the Shrewd. In 1934 he was "outstanding" as Foreign Minister Sir Dexter Rightside in On The Rocks, in 1935 "convincing enough" as Rev. Samuel Gardener in Mrs Warren's Profession and "suitably pompous" as the politician Crawshaw in Wurzel-Flummery. In 1936 he played Professor Chadov, an aged Bolshevik, in Life is Calling. O'Sullivan participated in the 1935 Authors Week pageant.

O'Sullivan was already married when he started living with Nelle Rickie in 1924; they had a Soviet style companionate marriage. His divorce came through in 1926. In 1929 he and Rickie had a legal union but in January 1930 he was bound over for punching her when drunk and breaking her glasses. They were involved in similar proceedings in 1936 and divorced in 1938.

O’Sullivan was a labourer who became a prominent trade unionist with the ARU railways union but by 1940 he was disillusioned with Communism which he said denied the spiritual and moral side of man. It was hypocrisy that its form of marriage would improve home life and equality of the sexes; if support for the unemployed was extended indefinitely the whole human race would perish if everyone refused to work; nationalisation led to everything belonging to everybody and nobody taking care of anything; class war meant that power by any means was justifiable; and religion was perverted into the Communists’ messiah being Lenin and their pope Stalin, a dictator who was taking political prisoners. In Russia women worked like navvies, to gain access to higher education meant one had to profess militant atheism, huge numbers of people were living in squalor, and artists had to conform to Stalin’s will ( Stalin didn’t like opera because it had no tunes the worker could whistle on his way home from the factory).

O’Sullivan told the story of the Communist Andre Gide who was in the USSR and wrote a telegram to Stalin, addressing him as “you”. The postal clerk refused to accept it unless he changed it to “you, our beloved leader”.

O’Sullivan urged people to take an interest in trade unions otherwise Communists would get control (as they had with the ARU and the Miners Federation). When the USSR and Germany signed their non-aggression pact the CPA couldn’t make up its mind which salute to use. In 1938 he was expelled from the AWU and in 1943 was one of four clerks sacked by the Allied Works Council.

Timothy James O’Sullivan aged 75 died at Newtown in 1970. His papers 1939 - 63 are held by Mitchell Library/State Library of NSW (ML MSS 57).

See also Nellie Rickie.



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