Prolific Australian actor's career spanned more than half a century

Australian actor Bill Hunter has died aged 71.

The prolific film and TV star passed away in a hospice in Melbourne yesterday (May 21) after suffering from cancer, reports Associated Press.

During a career that spanned more than 50 years, he became one of Australia’s best-loved character actors.

Hunter was perhaps best known for starring as Bill Heslop, the father of the bride in 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding, for which he was nominated for the Australian Film Institute Award For Best Supporting Actor.

He was also known for playing an archetypal Australian bloke in his film roles and appeared in movies such as The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert and Strictly Ballroom.

The actor’s manager Mark Morrissey led the tributes, commenting: “Bill was much-loved, a gentleman, an inspiration to fellow actors, a journeyman and a rogue.”

Speaking before his death, director Baz Luhrmann said Hunter was “the go-to iconic actor to synthesize quintessential Australian-ness.”