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Tribute

Bob Ellis

5 September 2016

Bob Ellis
Bob Ellis, 1999 David Naseby. © David Naseby

Bob Ellis (1942–2016) was a journalist, columnist, screenwriter, film director, playwright, speechwriter and critic. His screenwriting credits, Newsfront, Goodbye Paradise, Maybe This Time, Fatty Finn, Top Kid and The Paper Boy all won major prizes, as did his collaborations with Paul Cox, Man of Flowers and My First Wife. For the stage, he collaborated with Michael Boddy on The Legend of King O’Malley.

Having run unsuccessfully against Bronwyn Bishop for the seat of Mackellar in 1994, Ellis was answerable for the sensational ‘Abbott and Costello’ defamation case in March 1999. Finding assertions made in a short passage of his 1997 book Goodbye Jerusalem: Night Thoughts of a Labor Outsider false and defamatory, the judge ruled that his publisher pay compensation of $277,500 to Liberal politicians Peter Costello and Tony Abbott and their wives. Later, in the course of criticizing Julia Gillard, Ellis was to praise Abbott’s manners and intellect.

His later books include The Capitalism Delusion (2009) and One Hundred Days of Summer (2010). The Ellis Laws, the author’s ten ‘laws’ of life, was published by Penguin in 2014.

Naseby met Ellis through Les Murray, his friend of forty years’ standing, and he comments that seeing the two men together was ‘awe-inspiring’. This painting was done at the time of the publication of Goodbye Jerusalem. Naseby intended to refer to the ‘Abbott and Costello’ affair in the work but was dissuaded by friends from doing so. He writes that Ellis ‘loves a stoush’ and that he painted Ellis in a t-shirt because it ‘made him look like the scrapper he is’.

Related people

Bob Ellis

David Naseby

Related information

Portrait 53, Winter 2016

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Experience the art of rock music; attend to the neglected aspects of Lord Kitchener's work; and say farewell to the inimitable Bob Ellis.

Woman with Fair Hair and Pink Cardigan, 1949 by John Perceval.
Woman with Fair Hair and Pink Cardigan, 1949 by John Perceval.
Woman with Fair Hair and Pink Cardigan, 1949 by John Perceval.
Woman with Fair Hair and Pink Cardigan, 1949 by John Perceval.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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