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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Tony Adam, c. 1968

Janice McIllree

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 49.7 cm x 43.0 cm)

Tony Adam (b. 1938) model, grazier and farmhand, grew up in Melbourne and attended Melbourne Grammar school, but left when he was sixteen.He went to work on Angledool and Llanillo stations in outback New South Wales and Queensland. Having spent 1964 and 1965 mustering and branding in the Northern Territory, he accepted his first modelling job, gained through a Melbourne friend. One of his first filmed advertisements was a hair-raising shoot for the Holden Monaro, undertaken at the GMH testing track at night, steering at high speed into blinding lights with high pressure water hoses spraying ‘rain’ onto the windscreen with a terrified Wendy Hughes in the passenger seat. In spring 1966 he was approached by USP Benson about appearing in Marlboro still photographs, some of the earliest of which were taken on his own property. Although he always regarded modelling as a sideline to his real life, he did enjoy the luxury of travelling and was amazed to be allowed to keep ‘$400 outfits’ comprising RM Williams boots, suede jackets and moleskin trousers. Several of his filmed Marlboro commercials, co-starring red setters, were directed by Fred Schepisi. From 1976 he found himself ‘riding horses and smoking fags for billboards, point of sale material and TV’. However, after just a couple of years, the Australian Government restricted cigarette advertising to depiction of the product only, putting an end to the cigarette endorsement of figures such as Paul Hogan, Stewart Wagstaff and Tony Barber as well as the use of Adam’s famous face. Selling his farm in 1983, he continued to model intermittently into the 1980s. His autobiography, Riding High, replete with hilarious stories of his modelling jobs involving glamorous women, mobs of cattle, wayward horses and thousands of half-smoked cigarettes, was published in the 1990s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Janice McIllree 2012

Accession number: 2012.153

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Janice McIllree (age 33 in 1968)

Tony Adam (age 30 in 1968)

Subject professions

Media and communications

Donated by

Janice McIllree (5 portraits)

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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.