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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 26 March 1909Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Date of Death 27 May 1971Sydney, New South Wales, Australia  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn William Pilbean Goffage
Height 6' 5" (1.96 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Years before Jack Thompson arrived on the scene, Chips Rafferty was regarded by many as the personification of the stereotypically rugged, straightforward and laconic Aussie male. Tall and thin, though not particularly striking in appearance, Rafferty was a tailor-made star for the austere, modestly-budgeted dramas made 'down under' in the 1940's and 50's. His most individual aspect was in not being remotely reminiscent of any other leading contemporary British or American actor. In his youth, Chips had learned boxing and the art of horsemanship. He also displayed an affinity for painting watercolours. By the time, he entered the film industry as an extra with Cinesound Studios in 1939, John William Pilbean Goffage (nicknamed 'Chips' since schooldays) had already seen a great deal of life as a sheep-shearer, drover, roo hunter, gold prospector and cellarman in a wine bar. One of his more exotic activities also included that of a 'false teeth packer'. On the side, he wrote poems and short stories, which he sold to several Sydney publications. His first stint on the stage was as assistant and comic foil to a magician.

After his inauspicious screen debut in 1939, Chips came to the attention of film maker Charles Chauvel, who assigned him a rather more roguish-sounding surname, and proceeded to cast him as a heroic 'digger' in his patriotic wartime drama 40,000 Horsemen (1941). The resulting box-office success, both at home and abroad, led Chauvel to repeat the exercise with The Fighting Rats of Tobruk (1944). After wartime duties with the RAAF, Chips managed to persuade British director Harry Watt to star him in the pivotal role of tough cattle drover Dan McAlpine in The Overlanders (1946). This defined the Rafferty screen personae to such an extent, that he continued to play variations on the theme pretty much throughout the remainder of his career.

Under contract to Ealing, Chips had a brief sojourn in England opposite Googie Withers in The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947), followed by an integral part in Massacre Hill (1949) . In the early 50's, he co-founded - and invested much of his own money in - a short-lived production company, Southern International (in conjunction with the director Lee Robinson). They turned out a few unambitious adventure films, like Return of the Plainsman (1953) and King of the Coral Sea (1953), with Chips as the nominal star. For the most part, lucrative film work was to be found only in Hollywood: in feature films, like Kangaroo (1952), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and The Sundowners (1960); or as guest star in television episodes, ranging from Gunsmoke (1955) to Tarzan (1966). He remained for many years, Australia's most popular actor, an archetypal anti-establishmentarian, irreverent in humour, honest and uncomplicated. His penultimate performance as an outback cop in Wake in Fright (1971) is often cited as one of his best.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Ellen Jameson (28 May 1941 - 27 May 1964) (her death)

Trivia (1)

He was a Freemason, initiated at Lodge Literature #500 of the United Grand Lodge of NSW & ACT in 1957.

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