John Meillon

John Meillon, OBE (/ˈmɛljən/ MEL-yon; 1 May 1934 – 11 August 1989),[1] was an Australian character actor, known for many straight as well as comedy roles, he became most widely known internationally however as Walter Reilly in the films Crocodile Dundee and Crocodile Dundee II. He also voiced advertisements for Victoria Bitter beer.[2]

John Meillon

John Meillon in They're a Weird Mob (1966)
Born(1934-05-01)1 May 1934
Died11 August 1989(1989-08-11) (aged 55)
Years active1959–1988
Spouse(s)June Salter (1958–71; divorced); 1 child
Bunny Gibson (1972–89; his death); 1 child


Meillon was born in Mosman, New South Wales. His younger brother was director Bob Meillon (1943–2012).[3]

Meillon began his acting career at the age of eleven in the ABC's radio serial Stumpy, and made his first stage appearance the following year. He joined the Shakespeare Touring Company when he was sixteen. Like many actors of his generation from 1959 to 1965, he worked in England,[4] but while working in Britain he consciously steered away from Australian roles.[5] Meillon claimed that he learnt discipline while working in theatre, and that television was not a good a medium for training.[6]

Meillon had a recurring role in the television series My Name's McGooley, What's Yours?. He featured in two episodes of Skippy in 1968 and 1969, appearing as "Nimble Norris". In 1976, he won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role of 'Casey' in the film The Fourth Wish (1976).

With his rich baritone, Meillon was used extensively in voice-over work— most famously in his work as the Victoria Bitter narrator who says "you can get it any old how".[7]

Meillon married Australian actress June Salter in 1958 and they had one son, John Meillon, Jr.. Meillon and Salter were divorced in 1971. Meillon married actress Bunny Gibson on 5 April 1972; they also had a son.

Meillon was appointed an OBE in the 1979 Queen's Birthday Honours, for service to theatre.[8]

In June 1980, Meillon‘s favourite pub, The Oaks at Neutral Bay, opened The John Meillon OBE Bar in his honour.[9] He continued to frequent the bar over the following decade, including visiting in the week before his death from cirrhosis. His body was found in his home at Neutral Bay on 11 August 1989.[10][11][12] Meillon was posthumously awarded the Raymond Longford Lifetime Achievement Award.

Selected filmography


  1. Giles, Nigel, "Meillon, John (1934–1989)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, archived from the original on 26 September 2015
  2. Sinclair, Lara (13 June 2009). "Victoria Bitter douses 'hard-earned thirst' slogan". The Australian.
  3. "Bob Meillon dies; one of the great characters of the tv industry". 5 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. Yates, Kerry (29 July 1964). "He proposes to his wife eight times a week". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. p. 15. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  5. O'Neill, Josephine (3 May 1964). "The actor who won't be typed". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 44. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  6. Owen, Wendy (7 September 1975). "Top actor just acts the part". The Age. p. 2. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  7. Hornery, Andrew; Malkin, Bonnie, eds. (15 October 2004). "Rest in peace". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  8. "Meillon, John: Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil)",, Australian Government, archived from the original on 2 April 2015
  9. "John Mellion – now they name a pub after him". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 July 1980. p. 53. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  10. "John Meillon farewelled". The Canberra Times. 17 August 1989. p. 5.
  11. "John Meillon dead at 55". The Canberra Times. 12 August 1989. p. 1.
  12. "Obituary: John Meillon: a rare genius for character". The Canberra Times. 12 August 1989. p. 2.
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