The Two Frank Thrings

By Peter Fitzpatrick

They shared a name and their physical resemblance was startling. And, both Frank Thrings were huge figures in the landscape of 20th-century Australian theatre and film. But, in many ways, they could hardly have been more different. Frank Thring the father (1882-1936) began his career as a sideshow conjuror, and he wheeled, dealed, and occasionally married his way into becoming the legendary "F.T." - an impresario, speculator, and owner of Efftee Films, Australia's first 'talkies' studio. He built for himself an image of grand patriarchal respectability, a sizeable fortune, and all the makings of a dynasty. Frank Thring the son (1926-1994) squandered the fortune and derailed the dynasty in the course of creating his own persona - a unique presence that could make most stages and foyers seem small. He won fame playing tyrants in togas in Hollywood blockbusters (perhaps his most famous role was that of Pontius Pilate in Ben-Hur [1959]), then, suddenly, he came home to Melbourne to play perhaps his finest role - that of Frank Thring, actor and personality extraordinaire. Central to this role was that Frank the son was unapologetically and outrageously gay. In this compelling dual biography, author Peter Fitzpatrick tells the story of two remarkable characters. It's a kind of detective story, following the lives of two men who did all they could to cover their tracks, and to conceal 'the self:' Frank the father used secrecy and sleight-of-hand as strategies for self-protection; Frank the son masked a thoroughly reclusive personality with flamboyant self-parody. It's also the tale of a lost relationship - and of the power a father may have had, even over a son who hardly knew him. "This is a superbly constructed biography, finding a shape in the lives it explores after impeccable research". The Sydney Morning Herald, October 27, 2012 In August 2013, this book won the National Biography Award, Australia's pre-eminent prize for biographical writing and memoir.

564 pages

Publication Date: 8/9/2012
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781921867248

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