Paul Cronin, celebrated Australian actor who helped set up Brisbane Bears, dies aged 81


Updated September 14, 2019 16:23:38

Australian actor Paul Cronin has died, aged 81.

Key points:

  • Cronin performed in shows including The Sullivans, Matlock Police and State Coroner
  • He was instrumental in setting up the Brisbane Bears, which would later become the Brisbane Lions AFL team
  • Brisbane Lions will tonight wear black armbands as a mark of respect to Cronin

Born in Jamestown, South Australia, Cronin was well known for his roles in TV shows The Sullivans and State Coroner, winning five silver Logies.

He was also a passionate AFL supporter and helped set up the Brisbane Bears, serving as president of the club from 1987 to 1989.

In a statement, the Brisbane Lions, the club that eventually replaced the Bears, said its players would wear two black armbands when they played GWS Giants tonight, as a mark of respect for Cronin as well as former St Kilda great and Richmond coach Danny Frawley, who died in a car crash on Monday.

Cronin was perhaps best known for playing motorcycle policeman Gary Hogan in Matlock Police and Dave Sullivan in The Sullivans.

Cronin made his mark as ‘archetypal white Aussie dad’

Actor Sigrid Thornton, who worked with Cronin on The Sullivans, said his passing was a “really sad loss”.

“Paul was loved by everybody with whom he worked — he was a very warm, generous gentleman,” Thornton said.

“Paul was the kind of guy who called a spade a spade and treated everybody as he wanted to be treated himself.”

Thornton said The Sullivans, which centred on a working-class family during World War II, was a milestone in Australian television.

“The Sullivans was extremely important, it made a really firm mark in the zeitgeist and the Australian consciousness and it kind of set up an understanding that we as Australians could tell our own stories and talk about our own history in a very personalised context.

“In some ways Paul made his mark as the archetypal white Aussie dad.

“He made an extraordinary mark because The Sullivans had a very long life.”

He appeared in many other shows including Division 4, Homicide, Solo One, A Place to Call Home and The Flying Doctors.

Cronin’s fellow entertainers, including comedians Marty Fields and Greg Fleet took to social media today to pay tribute to him.

He won the silver Logie for most popular actor five times, including three years in a row from 1978.

In 1980, Cronin received the uniquely Melbourne honour of being crowned the King of Moomba — the city’s annual community festival.

Cronin helped bring Australian Rules to Queensland

Cronin led a consortium with Christopher Skase, which, in 1986, was awarded a licence to set up the Brisbane Bears, Queensland’s first Australian Rules team at the top level.

In a statement, Brisbane Lions chairman Andrew Wellington said the club was saddened by Cronin’s passing.

“Paul played a important role in bringing AFL to Queensland through leading the consortium that established the Brisbane Bears,” he said.

“Paul was the inaugural chairman of the Brisbane Bears and is a key figure in our club’s history.

“A national Australian Rules football competition exists today because of the passion and energy of people like Paul and we are very grateful for his contribution to this legacy.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

In his later years Cronin worked as a co-host on Melbourne radio station 3AW, filling in on the Nightline and Remember When programs whenever either Bruce Mansfield or Philip Brady were away.

“The public really loved him,” Brady said of Cronin, who he knew for more than 40 years.

“He really shone on talkback because the public knew he was an old mate, he just had that homespun philosophy about him that everybody could identify with.

“He was born to play Dave Sullivan because of the ocker approach he had to life.

“He was equally at home on radio, or on television and on the stage as well. He was just a great all-rounder.

“We won’t find another Paul Cronin again. His era has passed, sadly.”

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, television, community-and-society, death, sa, jamestown-5491, vic, melbourne-3000, qld, brisbane-4000

First posted September 14, 2019 13:00:03

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