Not many can boast of careers that lasted successfully for nearly seventy years, but that is what both Googie Withers and John McCallum achieved. Googie portrayed everything from brazen murderesses to Lady Bracknell, taking in blonde nitwits, wartime Resistance workers, lady farmers and Shakespeare along the way.
John not only performed memorably in all the acting media but also was a pioneer producer in Australian television – sending Skippy into the far corners of the earth – the managing director of a huge theatrical firm, and a film director, playwright and author.
Just as remarkable was their 62-year marriage, not all that common in the entertainment world, and the way this worked is as fascinating as their varied and prolific careers.
There were plenty of disagreements along the way but underlying all was their profound respect for each other’s work and a kind of love that was essentially complementary. Together, in professional and personal matters alike, an unbeatable combination. Brian McFarlane’s biography does justice to this remarkable pair – and reads as an absorbing story.
Brian McFarlane has had three overlapping careers, as teacher, academic and writer. He is the author or editor of over 20 books and hundreds of articles on film and literature and related matters. He co-edited the Oxford Companion to Australian Film and was compiler, editor, and chief author of The Encyclopedia of British Film, and most recently he published his memoir, Real and Reel, a light-hearted record of a lifetime’s obsession with the movies – and with writing about them.
He is an international authority on British cinema and on the adaptation of literature to film. In Australia he is known as a regular reviewer in The Age, Australian Book Review, Metro and Inside Story. He lives in Melbourne and is currently serving as Adjunct Professor, Swinburne Institute of Social Research, Swinburne Institute of Technology and as Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University.
“Brian’s book brings back wonderfully vivid memories of an important Australian past. Once I had met and worked with Googie and John I knew they were true royalty. Together, they made my life richer and gave my profession a finer meaning. This book brings them vividly to life. It is a great read.” – George Ogilvie, theatre director and drama teacher
Double-Act: The remarkable lives and careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum is published by Monash University Publishing and is available from all leading book retailers.
Image: Double-Act: The remarkable lives and careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum