Bert Bailey

Albert Edward Bailey (11 June 1868 – 30 March 1953), better known as Bert Bailey, was a New Zealand-born Australian writer, theatrical manager and actor best known for playing Dad Rudd on stage and screen.[1]

Bert Bailey
Bert Bailey

(1868-06-11)11 June 1868
Died30 March 1953(1953-03-30) (aged 84)

Early life

Bailey was born in Auckland, New Zealand, the second son of farmer Christopher Bailey and Harriette Adelaide. His parents divorced and Bailey's mother moved with him to Sydney when he was six months old.[2] She remarried in 1879 and went on to become a noted retailer, establishing the firm McCathie's.[3]

Bailey was educated at Crown Street School and Cleveland Street Public School. He decided not to go into the family business and worked as a telegram boy and at a floor manager at Crystal Palace skating rink. At age fifteen he went into vaudeville as a tambourine player and vocalist at Canterbury Music Hall in George Street, Sydney.[4]

In 1889 he joined the touring theatrical company of Edmund Duggan, playing a wide variety of roles throughout Australia. In 1900 he and Duggan joined the company of noted theatre producer William Anderson, who was Duggan's brother-in-law.

Playwriting career

In 1907 Bailey and Duggan wrote a play together under the joint pseudonym of "Albert Edmunds", The Squatter's Daughter (1907). This was produced by Anderson to great success and was adapted into a film in 1910, which Bailey directed as well as appeared in.

He and Duggan collaborated on a number of follow up plays (with both men also acting in the productions), including The Man from Outback (1909), On Our Selection (1912), an adaptation of the stories of Steele Rudd and The Native Born (1913). Of these the most popular was On Our Selection which became an Australian theatrical phenomenon, with over hundreds of productions through to the present day. Bailey would perform the role of Dad Rudd on and off for the rest of his career.[5]

Theatre entrepreneur

In 1912 Bailey ended his 12-year association with Anderson and went into partnership with his business manager, Julius Grant.[6] The two of them leased the Anderson Theatre in Melbourne and formed a highly successful association as theatre producers. Bailey also frequently toured with the 'Bert Bailey Dramatic Company'. He and Grant did suffer some commercial failures, such as a season of plays by William Shakespeare and a 1920 production of On Our Selection in London.

After touring in the Barry Conners play The Patsy for 23 weeks in 1929, Bailey retired from performing, believing that talking films were making theatre unprofitable.

Film career

Bailey was brought out of retirement in 1932 by Stuart F. Doyle to play Dad Rudd in a film version of On Our Selection, which he also co-wrote. He received £400 plus 60% of the profits which, for that movie, came to an estimated £14,000 by the end of 1934.[7]

Bailey played Dad Rudd in three more films, contributing to the script as well for each film. All four Rudd films were directed by Ken G. Hall who also directed an adaptation of The Squatter's Daughter.[8] After Dad Rudd, MP (1940), Bailey retired for good, apart from a brief appearance in a propaganda short made for the war effort, South West Pacific (1943).[9]

Personal life

Bailey married fellow actor Ivy Gorrick in 1902 and they had one child, a daughter, Doreen. His wife died in 1932 and Bailey never remarried. His habits included lawn bowls, boating and travelling with his daughter.[10]

In 1937 it was estimated that Bailey had earned £200,000 from On Our Selection.[11] He died a wealthy man with an estate worth £32,527.[12]


Select theatre credits

  • Criterion Comedy Burlesque Opera (1895) – actor in tour around New South Wales[13]
  • True Til Death (1896) – actor[14]
  • Harbour Lights (1896) – actor[15]
  • The Profligate (1896) – actor
  • The World Against Her (1898) – actor[16]
  • The Southern Cross (1898) – actor[17]
  • East Lynne (1899) – actor
  • The Ladder of Life – actor
  • The Squatter's Daughter, or, The Land of the Wattle (1907) – actor, co-writer
  • White Australia or, The Empty North (1909) – actor
  • The Man from Outback (1909) – co-writer, actor
  • The Bushwoman (1909)
  • The Winning Ticket (1910) – actor
  • The Christian (1911)
  • My Mate (1911) – actor
  • On Our Selection (1912) – actor, co-writer, producer
  • The Native Born (1913) – co-writer, actor, producer
  • What Happened to Mary (1914) – actor, producer
  • The Ninety-Nine (1914) – producer
  • Duncan McClure and the Poor Parson (1916) – actor, producer, co-writer
  • Gran’dad Rudd (1918) – producer, co-writer
  • On Our Selection (1920) – London production – actor
  • Jefferson Wins Through the King (1921) – producer
  • The Sentimental Bloke (1922–23) – producer, actor (as Ginger Mick)
  • The Patsy (1929) – actor


  1. "Bert Bailey:". Smith's Weekly. XXX (3). New South Wales, Australia. 20 March 1948. p. 7. Retrieved 14 April 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "REAL-LIFE 'DAD' HAS SEEN PIONEER DAYS." Sunday Times (Perth) 28 Jul 1940: 3 accessed 30 Dec 2011
  3. Harriette Adelaide MccCathie at Australian Dictionary of Biography
  4. Frank Van Straten, 'Bert Bailey' at Live Performance Hall of Fame
  5. "LOOKING BACKWARD". The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate. NSW: National Library of Australia. 15 October 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  6. "MR. BERT. BAILEY." The Sydney Morning Herald 17 Feb 1912: 13 accessed Web. 26 Nov 2011
  7. "Counting the Cash in Australian Films"', Everyones 12 December 1934 p 19-21
  8. Bert Bailey at Live Performance of Australia Hall of Fame
  9. Vagg, Stephen (August 18, 2019). "Australian Movie Stars". Filmink.
  10. "FILM NEWS OF THE WEEK. BERT BAILEY'S DAUGHTER TALKS OF HER FATHER—"DAD RUDD."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 30 May 1940. p. 20. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  11. "The TALK OF THE TOWN". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 13 November 1937. p. 11. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  12. "BERT BAILEY LEFT £32,527." The Sydney Morning Herald 18 Aug 1953: 5 accessed 30 Dec 2011
  13. "Criterion Comedy Burlesque Opera Company". Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867–1904). NSW: National Library of Australia. 13 July 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  14. "THEATRE ROYAL". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 29 December 1896. p. 5. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  15. "THEATRE ROYAL". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 28 December 1896. p. 5. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  16. "LYCEUM THEATRE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 10 September 1898. p. 10. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  17. "THE LYCEUM.—"THE SOUTHERN CROSS."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 26 September 1898. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
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