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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.

John Dease, 1941

Max Dupain

gelatin silver photograph on paper (mount: 52.8 cm x 39.1 cm, sheet: 49.0 cm x 37.0 cm, image: 48.3 cm x 37.0 cm)

Conly John Paget Dease (1906-1979), actor and broadcaster, spent thirty years as one of the signature voices of the ‘Golden Age’ of Australian radio. Dease was born in Burma (Myanmar) while his British father was serving in the 91st Punjabi Regiment. In 1923, after school in England, 17 year-old Dease emigrated under South Australian Premier Henry Barwell’s ‘Farm Apprentice Scheme’. (One farmer complained that this ‘Barwell Boy’ was lazy and ‘always reading’.) Released from the apprenticeship in 1925, Dease worked as a teacher before studying drama with Doris Fitton at the Independent Theatre in Sydney and joining the JC Williamson theatrical company. In 1935, Dease began his broadcasting career as an announcer with 2GB, part of the rapidly growing Macquarie Radio Network. Dease hosted various programs. For 25 years, he attracted one of the station’s biggest followings with ‘World-Famous Tenors’, for which he developed the fictitious persona of ‘an old Irish concert-master’ complete with ‘time-worn violin’ and nostalgic reminiscences. So real was he to listeners that some requested violin lessons for their children. In 1946, he helped young actor Peter Finch establish the Mercury Theatre. Dease became the popular and enthusiastic host of ‘Quiz Kids’, which ran on radio from 1942 to 1962 and involved five children aged between 11 and 15 answering listeners’ questions – those left unanswered brought the listener a cash prize. During the 1970s, Dease took character roles in film and television.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Danina Anderson, daughter of Max Dupain 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2017.4

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Max Dupain (age 30 in 1941)

John Dease (age 35 in 1941)

Donated by

Danina Anderson (34 portraits)

Related information

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Sydney Ure Smith, 1948 Max Dupain
Sydney Ure Smith, 1948 Max Dupain
Sydney Ure Smith, 1948 Max Dupain
Sydney Ure Smith, 1948 Max Dupain

Dupain detective

Magazine article by Johanna McMahon, 2019

Johanna McMahon revels in history and mystery in pursuit of a suite of unknown portrait subjects.

Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka, 1936-37 Max Dupain
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka, 1936-37 Max Dupain
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka, 1936-37 Max Dupain
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka, 1936-37 Max Dupain

Vintage Max

Magazine article by Gael Newton, 2003

Gael Newton delves into the life and art of renowned Australian photographer, Max Dupain.

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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.