Life & Arts

A star has fallen from the sky: Bob Ellis has died

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Legendary Australian writer, journalist, playwright and auteur Bob Ellis died today, 3 April 2016.

Bob had been battling liver cancer for the past year and finally succumbed today at his home at Palm Beach, in Sydney's north, at 4.15pm.

At the end, Bob was surrounded by his loving family, wife Anne Brooksbank, sons Jack and Tom, and daughter Jenny.

Bob Ellis was a true genius and an Australian icon, with a once in a generation facility for language. Often controversial, frequently confronting and always brilliant, Bob was simply unable to turn a dull phrase. He wrote movies and plays and books and articles and appeared on stage and gave speeches and was, in short, a brilliant, bubbling spring of creativity.

A long time IA contributor and a good friend, Bob became involved in IA after I opened his website, Table Talk, one night in 2012 and read article after article — until I realised they had all been written that same day. He was astonishingly prolific. I was astounded he was not being published by the mainstream media. I found out later he had been released by Fairfax in 2011 over some controversy or another. Outspoken and never shy about speaking his mind, Bob was never far from one of those. I emailed him and we reached terms almost immediately. He had a reputation for being difficult, and a curmudgeon, but to me he was always kind and warm.

I gave Bob no guidance about what to write and often disagreed with his opinions, but I always loved the way he expressed them.

Other obituaries will be written about Bob's immense contribution to Australian popular culture; his award winning movies Newsfront and My First Wife, and plays, such as The Legend of King O'Malley. But here at IA we weep for the loss of one of Australia's most piercing journalistic talents, which began in the 1970s with the Nation Review, a contrarian, progressive political publication not dissimilar to Independent Australia.

A star has fallen from the sky.

And so it goes.

A young Bob Ellis in Sydney, 1971 (Photo by Geoff Bull via

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