Thring was born in Melbourne, Victoria and educated at Melbourne Grammar School. His father, Frank W. Thring, was the head of Eftee Studios in Melbourne in the 1920s, and is said to be the inventor of the clapboard. Thring Senior was also a noted film producer (The Sentimental Bloke), and partner in the nationwide Australian theatre circuit Hoyts.
In a career spanning over 35 years, much of it spent alternating between stage, film and television, perhaps his most famous role was that of Pontius Pilate in the 1959 movie Ben-Hur. He also appeared as Al Kadir in the epic El Cid (1961). Thring was also awarded the prestigious 'Erik Kuttner Award for Acting' (1965).
In addition to these roles, Thring played Herod Antipas in the Biblical epic King of Kings (1961) and the usurping king Aella in The Vikings (1958). One of his final screen roles was as the devilish Collector in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), another was a comedic role as an Alfred Hitchcock-like film director in the horror movie spoof, Howling III (1987).
Thring trained as an actor at Melbourne radio station 3XY while in his youth and began acting in professional stage roles after his discharge from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1945. He made his British theatrical debut performing as Herod in Oscar Wilde's play Salome in 1954. Two years later, he played Sir Lancelot Spratt in Doctor in the House, which ran for 240 performances at the Victoria Palace in London.
He was Saturninus in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre production of Titus Andronicus with Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Anthony Quayle. He also played Captain Hook opposite Peggy Cummins' Peter Pan. Among his other acclaimed stage roles were George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, Captain Ahab in Orson Welles’s Moby-Dick, Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1, and Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo.
Thring's television credits include the Australian miniseries Against the Wind and Bodyline. He was also the recurring villain Doctor Stark who immobilizes echidnas with a lethal drug in several episodes of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. He appeared in two biographical films about famous bushrangers: Ned Kelly (1970) and Mad Dog Morgan (1976). He played suave gangsters in Alvin Purple Rides Again (1974) and The Man from Hong Kong (1975).
Off-screen, Thring was known for his flamboyant, often waspish, persona. He was featured in numerous TV commercials and guest-starring roles on popular weekly series, variety programs and quiz shows, often dressed in black funereal attire and other sinister costumes. However, his acting career was interrupted by bouts of alcoholism and periods of ill health.
Although a lifelong homosexual, Thring was briefly married and divorced from actress Joan Cunliffe during the 1950s. In 1994, Thring died from cancer aged 68. He was cremated and his ashes scattered off the coast of Queenscliff, Victoria. A celebration of his life was held at the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, in 1995.
- ↑ Frank Thring biography at IMDb
- ↑ Sally Dawes: ‘Frank Thring’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
- ↑ Sally Dawes: "Frank Thring", in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995.
- ↑ Craig Bellamy, Gordon Chisholm, Hilary Eriksen (17 Feb 2006). Moomba: A festival for the people.: pp.17-22; photo p. 21
- ↑ A Tribute to Frank, booklet published for the celebration of Thring’s memory, Victorian Arts Centre Playhouse, 5 March 1995
- The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia — Theatre . Film . Radio . Television — Volume 1 — Ann Atkinson, Linsay Knight, Margaret McPhee — Allen & Unwin Pty. Ltd., 1996
- The Australian Film and Television Companion — compiled by Tony Harrison — Simon & Schuster Australia, 1994
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