Person - Vic Arnold

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VICTOR JULIUS CAUVAIN ARNOLD (1905 – 1982)

Vic Arnold was born on 6 July 1905 in London, but many who knew him commented on his exotic appearance. ASIO said he looked “foreign”, Michael Pate said he looked Spanish, and Oriel Gray said he had a face like “a humorous Cockney satyr”. Arnold ran away to sea at 16, toured the USA with vaudeville in the 1920s, participated in a New Zealand maritime strike, and by August 1932 was in Sydney. Here he became a member of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), joined the Workers' Art Club (WAC) in May 1933 and soon became its Secretary, succeeding CPA members Honey Sloane, G H Dixon and A Morrissey. Vic Arnold was the driving force behind the drama section.

in 1934 Arnold played Higgins in Shaw's Pygmalion and acted in On the Rocks. In 1935 he was in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Life is Calling, played Frank in Mrs Warren’s Profession , and married saleswoman Sylvia Mary Lunn who played Vivie. They divorced four years later. Sylvia Arnold remarried and died in 1974.

On 20 January 1939 Vic Arnold was one of the NT actors fined £5 for performing War on the Waterfront in the Domain the previous month. At the Naughty Nineties Labor Jubilee Ball at Sydney's Trocadero in 1940 he sang "I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside". After working with the Workers Art Guild in Perth he put his age down by seven years to join the AIF and during the Second World War was a sergeant in the Australian Army Theatre entertainment unit with Peter Finch. Arnold was discharged in September 1946.

Postwar he was, according to ASIO, because of his drinking sent by the CPA to Melbourne where he became active with Melbourne New Theatre. In 1951 he married clerk Joan de Hugard, stating that they didn’t “have to live in sin any more”. By 1952 he was Secretary of the Realist Film Association in Melbourne. From 1945 until his death Vic Arnold was a member of Actors' Equity, and its Victorian Secretary from 1958. A skilled negotiator, he was involved in campaigns to establish a quota for Australian content on television and residuals to be paid to performers. He died childless on 7 November 1982.

Vic Arnold has an entry in The Australian Dictionary of Biography.



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