Australian Actor Harold Hopkins Dies from Mesothelioma

As reported by the Herald Sun, a news source serving Melbourne and other parts of Australia, “Harold Hopkins died at Neringah Private Hospital in the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga during the early hours of December 11, 2011.” Hopkins was only 67 years old. Harold Hopkins was born on March 6, 1944 just southwest of Queensland, Australia in Toowoomba. The article notes that his family described him as both “a charmer and a larrikin with an exuberance for life.” The Herald Sun reported that Hopkins is survived by his “twin Brother John and his five siblings Naomi, Michael, Gregory, Margaret and Suzanne.” His family believes that Hopkins diagnosis of mesothelioma was due to “his first job after high school, when he worked with asbestos sheeting as an apprentice carpenter in south-east Queensland in the early 1960s.” According to the news source, during this apprenticeship Hopkins worked “without protective masks or clothing and unwittingly allowing asbestos fibers to penetrate his lungs and chest for close to half a century.” Hopkins is best known for his major roles in Australian films such as: Gallipoli, Don's Party and The Club. According to Hopkins’ brother-in-law, Rowland Hill, Hopkins had auditioned for a role in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming film The Great Gatsby earlier this year, just days after receiving his diagnosis. The Herald reported that even though Hopkins knew he would not be able to complete the role he auditioned nonetheless. His brother-in-law stated that the audition “was just a great opportunity to take part in the industry that he had spent a lifetime in.” The Herald went on to report that Hopkins was accepted to the National Institute of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1967. During his lifetime Hopkins appeared in 16 movies, as well as over 160 television episodes including, Barrier Reef, Homicide, The Godfathers, Twenty Good Years, Sarah Dane, A Nice Little Earner and Underbelly. Hopkins was described as “a man who followed his own passions and interests.” Eventually, Hopkins purchased a block of land at Webbs Creek, located just off the Hawkesbury River where he could “indulge in his love for nature, animals, and the outdoors.” His twin brother John was quoted as saying “it was where he belonged and where he was happiest.” The article reported that late in his career, “Hopkins worked with many young actors including Joel Edgerton, Kieran Darcy-Smith and Damien Walsh-Howling, who visited him before he died.” Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is generally treated with palliative rather than curative treatments and therapies. As the cancer progresses focus tends to be on the patient’s comfort and quality of life. The Herald reported that “even when he was experiencing a great deal of pain, Hopkins was charming those around him.” His family also noted that even his nursing staff “were all engaged by him quickly, even as he was facing death.” Herald Hopkins died surrounded by his family and will remain a cherished part of Australia’s history and culture. Reference:
  • AAP Staff Writer. (December 11, 2011). “Actor Herald Hopkins dies of cancer, aged 67.” Retrieved on December 14, 2011 from The Herald Sun.
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