John Waters is one of Australia’s most recognised and respected television, film and theatrical actors. He was born in London, England on December 8 1948, to Scottish actor Russell Waters and wife Barbara. The family, including siblings Philip, Angela, Stephen and Fiona, lived in a rented top floor 2 bedroom flat in 56c Anlaby Road, Teddington, Middlesex close to the Thames TV studios.
Growing up around his fathers film studio’s found him catching the acting bug early. His youngest appearance was at age ten in the original Titanic movie A Night To Remember, followed by a Disney classic Dr Syn and a bit part in Z Cars. John attended Hampton Grammar School from approx 1960 to 1967, appearing as Macbeth in the school play in about 1966 complete with the normally banned long hair.
As a teen he lived every boyhood dream, singing and playing bass in a rock and roll band called The Riots.
In 1968 he took the “ten pound” opportunity offered by the Australian government and sailed to Australia with his guitar and a few pounds in his pocket. He worked on a sheep station before moving to Sydney, where he was working as a storeman by day and frontman of a cover band at night. He soon heard a US film called Adam’s Woman, starring Beau Bridges, was being filmed in NSW and got a job as a grip on set. Cast members, including Helen Morse, recommended he try auditioning for an up and coming new musical. He did, and landed the lead role of Claude in Sydney’s 1969 production of the landmark rock musical, Hair. This was followed by the role of Judas in Godspell.
This led to an acting career on stage, film and television that elevated him to his current status as Australia’s most versatile leading man.
In order to appear a more mature actor, John added 5 years to his age in the early 70s. This, along with exciting stories of how he came to acquire the famous scar beneath his left eye (anything from sword fight in Algiers to bar brawls in Paris), enabled John to get many of the most sought after roles in Australia at the time.
Articles in womens magazines had John celebrating his 40th birthday several years too early. Around the late 80s – early 90s John gradually let the extra years slip until he was back to his real age – where he has remained ever since.
And as for that scar, barely visible thru the rugged character lines etched upon his face these days, but so darned appealing ‘back then’, an interview with his sister Fizz in 2002 revealed it to be no more than a childhood mishap with some traffic that was never treated properly by the doctor.
John wasnt the first actor in the world to embelish his age or past, and he certainly wont be the last. Thats showbiz folks. After all, a 29 year old with a scar from a brawl in Paris certainly sounds more exciting than a 24 year old who came off a footpath as a kid !! Funnily while John was able to revert back to his correct age eventually, onewonders what the results would be if every ’40 year old’ actress suddenly reverted to her true age !
While he played hard nosed criminals, policemen, soldiers and murderers on television through the 70s, the other side of John was enthralling an audience of 5 year olds (and thier mums) as he had tea and played dress ups with Jemima and Big Ted as a regular host of Play School for 10 years.
As a television actor John was the brooding Sgt. McKellar of ABC TV’s Rush which earned him a Logie Award for Best New Talent, and the sexy paddlesteamer captain Brenton Edwards in All The Rivers Run. He guest starred in everything from Homicide to The Box, Good Guys Bad Guys, The Man From Snowy River, All Together Now and Young Lions. Not forgeting the memorable mini series and telemovies of the 80s Nancy Wake, Alice To Nowhere and Singapore Sling.
He also starred in the ABC series Fireflies and Channel 7’s hospital drama All Saints (for which he recieved a 2006 AFI Award nomination for “Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a TV Drama”). In 2010 he guest starred in Channel 9’s Underbelly – The Golden Mile and Sea Patrol , channel 7’s City Homicide and earned a lead role in the Ch10 series Offspring. In 2012 John starred in the ABC mystery drama telemovie The Mystery of the Hansom Cab.
As a presenter/narrator/spokesman he has been seen and heard on ad campaigns for The Bankers Trust, MBF Health Fund, Birdseye, Sudafed, Uncle Toby’s Porridge, Qantas , Telstra, Mao’s Last Dancer, MLC, Arnotts, Sydney Wildlife World, Toyota Hybrid Camry, Continental Tortilla Stacks. He has narrated programs such as Mind Games: Real Life Adventures, Nostradamus, Triple Zero Heroes and Kapyong.
On film John has appeared in many Australian productions, from End Play, Summerfield, Breaker Morant, Eliza Frazer, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, The Getting Of Wisdom, Bushfire Moon, Heaven Tonight, The Real McCaw, The Bouncer, Centre Place and The Return to Nim’s Island alongside Bindi Irwin.
John is a big supporter of up and coming Australian film makers and adds gravitas to their casting by appearing in their short films including Ragtime, Worm and Luck.
As a theatrical performer John has starred in all the classics from Hair to Godspell, Dracula, Jesus Christ Superstar, My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, They’re Playing Our Song, The Hunting of the Snark, A Little Night Music, Love Letters, Children of a Lesser God, Oliver, The Graduate, An Ideal Husband , Influence, The Rocky Horror Show and The Swimming Club. In 2013 John starred as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family Musical.
He wrote, financed and composed the rock musical ReUnion with friend Stewart D’Arrietta. He and Stewart also wrote the one man show Looking Through a Glass Onion, based on the life of John Lennon and toured nationally regularly since 1992 and also played six months in London’s West End in 1995. Glass Onion returned in an all new season for 2010-2011 and again for full Australian tours in 2012 – 2014 and will head to New York in 2014.
He performed a one-man Cabaret season as Jacques Brel in Cafe Brel in the 70’s and brought the show back to life as BREL in 2010 followed by the release of a cd of the same name. He has performed the songs of Lennon & McCartney with Christine Anu, Leo Sayer & Rick Price in Let It Be in 2006, and with Jon Stevens, Jack Jones and Doug Parkinson in 2010.
John’s solo album Cloudland was released in 2010 and features his own work as well as a couple of special covers. He has also released a new CD version of Pilliga Pete and Clarrie the Cocky, a childrens story & songs first released in the 80s.
John has been imortalised on canvas twice when portraits of him have been entered in the esteemed Archibald Prize in 2001 and 2014.
On the family side, John’s first marriage was to actress Jenny Cullen – a union that produced children Ivan and Rebecca. His second marriage was to actress Sally Conabere. His third marriage, to Zoe Burton, was in January 2002 and they became parents to son Archie in January 2003 and twins Gloria & Rusty in September 2006.
John continues to be one of the hardest working and most employable actors in Australia. Happily married for the third time, he is a father of 5 and grandfather of 2.
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