Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Menu

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.

George Spartels

early 1970s
Ivan Gaal

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 24.2 cm x 19.2 cm, frame: depth 4.2 cm)

George Spartels (b. 1954), actor, composer, musician and presenter, was a host on the ABC television children’s program Play School from 1985 to 1999. Born in Melbourne to a Greek father and Irish/English mother, in the 1970s he appeared in no fewer than five different television police dramas: Division 4, Homicide, Matlock Police, Bluey and Cop Shop. In 1981-1983 he played the substantial role of Amos in the Sydney Theatre Company’s Chicago, directed by Richard Wherrett. After playing Nick Poulopoulos for seventeen episodes of the television show Sweet and Sour in 1984, in 1985 he appeared in the film Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome, third in the Mad Max series. That year, he began his period as the much-loved ‘George from Playschool’ – the title of one of his several albums for children, which include Surfing with the Seagulls (1993) and Return of the Spangled Drongo (1999). In 1992-1993 he was a regular character in Neighbours, playing the part of an Italian, Benito Alessi, in 47 episodes. More recently, he has played Theo Karandonis in Packed to the Rafters (2009-2012). Having played a character in Mike Leigh’s intense ensemble piece Greek Tragedy at the Belvoir in 1989-1990, and Mercutio in Neil Armfield’s Romeo and Juliet for the South Australian theatre Company in 1998, he appeared in Armfield’s The Spook for the Belvoir in 2004 and in various Company B productions to 2008. In 2014 he appeared across Australia, in Toronto and Los Angeles in the international stage production The Last Confession. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer wrote ‘the most satisfying acting turns come from the most virtuous characters . . . [including the] small role of Cardinal Lorscheider (George Spartels)’. Spartels has also starred in live productions of Play School and in children’s concerts including George Meets the Orchestra with the Queensland Philharmonic in 2001.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2019
© Ivan Gaal

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ivan Gaal

George Spartels (age 16 in 1970)

Donated by

Ivan Gaal (1 portrait)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

Bryan Brown
Bryan Brown
Bryan Brown
Bryan Brown

The Look

Previous exhibition, 2019

Featuring striking photographic portraits of contemporary figures from the National Portrait Gallery collection, The Look is an aesthetic treat with a lashing of je ne sais quoi.

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

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency