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Tribute to James Condon (1923-2014)

Posted by ken On February - 15 - 2014


Tribute to James Condon (1923-2014)

    Audrey Long (Barnaby) kindly conveyed the sad passing of James Condon (1923-2014) the younger brother of Coralie Condon, who was an actor of great note, performing on the stage, radio, films and television.

    Coralie and James used to talk each night by phone until he had a stroke last year and was placed in high care.

    James Condon was born on September 27, 1923 in Fremantle, Western Australia, and he was still a boy when his mother died, so Coralie helped raise him, whilst their father spent much time in the eastern states.


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James Thomas Condon

    James and Coralie where both involved with the repertory theatre in Perth. James’ professional acting career began with ABC Radio in 1942, at Broadcast House in Stirling Gardens, located next to the Government House Ballroom in Perth.

    At 18 years of age, James joined the RAAF Reserve, whilst awaiting call-up, to then serve three and a quarter years in the Air Force, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, having flown operationally as a navigator with RAF Squadron 547, B24 Liberator, Coastal Command stationed at Leuchars Junction, Fife, Scotland for the last six months of the war in Europe.

    He had been working in ABC radio drama for six months in Perth before being called up for war service, and returned to acting in 1945.

    Then in 1949, He went to London and worked for the BBC in radio and television until 1951. Whilst there, he married his first wife Joan Cranmer and had four daughters.


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James Condon with first wife Joan and daughters

    The ABC then contracted him at four times the salary he was getting in London. James returned to Perth to work for ABC Radio and continued his stage acting with the amateur Perth Repertory Club. The Rep then evolved into The National Theatre Company at the Playhouse.

    The Playhouse theatre opened on Wednesday 22 August, 1956, with “The Teahouse of the August Moon” written by the American playwright and screenwriter John Patrick, and directed by Nita Pannell. James played the role of Captain Fisby, with James Kemp as Colonel Purdy, Michael Cole as Sakini, Frank Baden-Powell as Capt. McLean, Penelope Hanrahan as Lotus Blossom and Garry Meadows as Sgt. Gregovich.


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Colonel Purdy (James Kemp) on left, Captain Fisby (James Condon) at attention and Michael Cole (Sakini) on right

    James continued working as an actor, scriptwriter and interviewer with the ABC in Perth until television began in Australia in September 1956, following which he moved to Sydney where he scored a lead role in Portia Faces Life, and this lead on to other radio work.


04-Ray Hartley with James Condon compere of the Variety show

Ray Hartley with James Condon, compere of the Variety show “What’s next?” in 1961

    For more than three decades he worked continuously in television, radio, theatre, film and voice-overs.

    During those years, James met the actress Anne Haddy, firstly as friends, then much later as lovers, and were together since 1974. They married in 1977. In 1985, Anne landed the role of Helen Daniels on Neighbours. James and Anne moved from Sydney to Melbourne for Anne’s part in the show. Her role was the backbone of the Neighbours series from 1985 to 1997. He acted alongside Anne twice in Neighbours – as Douglas Blake in 1985 and again in 1995 as Reuben White.



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Anne passed away in 1999 of heart and kidney ailments.


James Condon’s screen acting credits include:

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  • The Stowaway (1958 Film),
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  • The Outcasts (1961 TV Show),
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  • The Story of Peter Grey (1961 TV Show),
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  • Homicide (1964 TV Show),
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  • Catwalk (1970 TV Series),
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  • Number 96 (1972 TV Show),
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  • Scobie Malone (1975 Film with Jack Thompson & Judy Morris),
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  • McCloud (1976 “Night of the Shark” US TV Series with Dennis Weaver),
  •   
  • Prisoner (1979 TV Show),
  •   
  • Tim (1979 Film with Piper Laurie & Mel Gibson),
  •   
  • Bellamy (1981 TV Show),
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  • A Country Practice (1981 TV Show),
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  • Hoodwink (1981 Film with John Hargreaves & Judy Davis),
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  • Sons and Daughters (1982 TV Show),
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  • Carson’s Law (1983 TV Show),
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  • The Boy Who Had Everything (1985 Film with Jason Connery, Diane Cilento),
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  • Neighbours (1985 TV Show),
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  • Backstage (1988 Film with Laura Branigan, Michael Aitkens & Noel Ferrier),
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  • Trouble in Paradise (1989 TV Movie with Raquel Welch & Jack Thompson),
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  • A Cry in the Dark (Evil Angels) (1998 Film with Meryl Streep & Sam Neill),
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  • The Private War of Lucinda Smith (1990 TV Movie),
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  • The Efficiency Expert (1992 Film with Anthony Hopkins and Ben Mendelsohn),
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  • Time Trax (1993 US TV Series made in Australia),
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  • Blue Heelers (1994 TV Show),
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  • Neighbours (1995 TV Show),
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  • Kangaroo Palace (1997 TV Movie),
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  • After the Deluge (2003 TV Movie).

    In addition there have been many stage appearances including a wonderful 1993 production of Madame Butterfly, which was a great success in Melbourne and Sydney before they toured over several months. This was followed by ‘A Flea in Her Ear’ and ‘There’s One In Every Marriage’, at Mietta’s Theatre Restaurant, Melbourne, in 1994. For the 1995 Melbourne International Comedy Festival… James appeared in The Best of British: ‘Rookery Nook’ and ‘When We Are Married’, which were performed on alternate nights at Mietta’s Theatre Restaurant.

    James was one of four actors (aged from 22 to 80) who breathed new life into an epic Australian war poem: Sky Saga. This was about the heroism of World War II Australian airmen. It was written by Sir Thomas White, himself a heroic World War participant who later became federal aviation minister under Prime Minister Menzies and High Commissioner to England.

    In September 2003, this group of actors performed the full (75 minute) Sky Saga for veterans at the RAAF Air Forces Club in South Yarra, where James said,

“You could see the smiles on their faces, these old guys, because they’ve lived it.”

    Sky Saga (the 12-minute version) was then performed by Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir as part of the Spirit of Anzac Day Concert, April 25 2004, at the Melbourne Town Hall.

    James recorded many talking books for the blind. Originally, for the Louis Braille Talking Book Library, then for the National Institute of Library Resources, doing about six books a year. He narrated the 1992 and 1995 TDK Australian Audio Books of the year.

    Aged 90 years, late of RSL Veterans’ Village Narrabeen. James Thomas Condon passed away peacefully on 14th February 2014. Much loved husband of Joan (dec) and Anne (dec). Loved brother of Coralie in Perth and Terry (dec). Wonderful father of Elizabeth, Susan, Catherine and Mary Anne, stepfather of Jane and Tony. Loving grandfather and great-grandfather.

    Relatives and friends are invited to a Requiem Mass at Saint Rose Catholic Church, Collaroy Plateau Sydney on Tuesday 18th February, 2014 at 2.00pm.


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3 Responses to “Tribute to James Condon (1923-2014)”

  1. Beloved Dad and multi talented Actor…it was amazing growing up going to see you in the theatre..Teahouse of the August Moon…being the first time I was taken to see a play in Perth…watching you on tv all our lives.. hearing your voice on radio and tv and seeing you in many movies…We wouldnt know what to do with an ordinary Dad… but most of all you were/ are the Kindest man ever… Heavens gain is Our Loss..xxxx

  2. Catherin McGahey says:

    Not sure if I’m responding to or adding here. Sadly I only just came across James’s obituary yesterday evening, had I know of his passing at the time I would definitely have attended the requiem mass in February. Mr Condon was a part of my childhood. Though his career was long and his credits impressive for me he was first & foremost my friends’ father, the man with the wonderful voice who would drive us around on weekends to picnics and to church on Sundays. My sincere condolences to his family he will be missed
    Cathy

  3. Astrid Diercks says:

    My sincere and belated condolences to the families of James Condon. A very special astute talented,funny man
    with such radiant presence. My short professional exposure to Anne and James as their physiotherapist and massage therapist in Melbourne leaves memories of a wonderful human character. Farewell and Thank you for enriching many lives.

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