Leonard Teale

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Leonard Teale
Leonard George Thiele

(1922-09-26)26 September 1922
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died14 May 1994(1994-05-14) (aged 71)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active1956-1986
(m. 1968)

Leonard George Thiele [1] AO (26 September 1922 14 May 1994), professionally Leonard Teale, was a well-known Australian actor of radio, television and film known for his resonant baritone voice. He is best remembered for his role as David "Mac" Mackay in the long-running Australian police drama Homicide . [2]


As a professional actor he adopted Teale – a homophone of his birth surname, Thiele – as a stage name.

Life and career

Leonard George Thiele was born in Brisbane, to Maude Henrietta Thiele, née Rasmussen, and Herman Albert Thiele, a chemist. He attended Milton State Primary School and Brisbane Grammar School (1934–38) on a scholarship. However, the family's financial situation during the Great Depression forced Leonard to leave school and enter the workforce. He worked as a junior clerk at Brisbane City Council's Electricity Supply Department. In his spare time, he took up amateur drama, with local repertory groups. From the age of 17, he augmented these activities with a role as a part-time radio announcer, after successfully auditioning at the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in Brisbane.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Thiele joined the Militia and served as a signaller. Interested in becoming a pilot, he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 10 October 1942. He graduated from flying school the following year and was commissioned as officer. In 1944, Thiele was posted to the Mediterranean theatre, where he served with No. 458 Squadron RAAF, a maritime patrol/strike unit, flying Vickers Wellingtons, from bases at Foggia, Italy, and Gibraltar. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in September 1945 and was discharged on 16 January 1946, after returning to Australia.

Thiele's career as a professional actor commenced in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in radio serials; his roles included that of Superman/Clark Kent and Tarzan. He also made regular appearances in radio variety programs such as the Bonnington's Bunkhouse Show, and voiceovers in countless commercials. He appeared in several feature films, including Smiley, Smiley Gets A Gun, and Bungala Boys.

In the early 1950s, with Raymond Hanson, Roland Robinson and others, Thiele helped form the short-lived Australian Cultural Defence Movement, aimed at protecting local arts and crafts production from the perceived inroads being made by imported content, particularly from the US. However, the movement faltered after becoming a target of anti-communist activists, [3] (His brother, Neville Thiele, was also targeted, for participating in left-wing theatre. [4] )

Thiele was a co-compère of the radio ABC Children's Session, as "Chris" from 1951 to 1954 (also playing the title role in its Muddle-Headed Wombat serial), his involvement possibly cut short by management for political reasons. [5] At this time he was still using the surname "Thiele" professionally. [6]

Major television roles included a regular comedic role in the Mobil-Limb Show, host roles in variety programs Singalong and Folkmoot , and acting roles in locally produced drama series including Whiplash , The Hungry Ones , Adventure Unlimited , and Consider Your Verdict . He is best remembered, however, for his long-running role [7] as Senior Detective (later Detective Sergeant) David "Mac" Mackay in Homicide from 1965–73. Homicide was Australia's first-ever locally produced TV police drama. Teale won a Logie for best Australian actor in 1974. He also hosted a documentary about the series, The Homicide Story, in 1970. Other leading television roles included Captain Woolcott in Seven Little Australians (1973), and headmaster Charles Ogilvy in school-based soap opera Class of '74 (1974–75).

Teale narrated for Australian Broadcasting Corporation audio recordings, including the Banjo Paterson poem The Man from Snowy River , and a spoken-word version of the Led Zeppelin song "Stairway to Heaven" on ABC-TV's The Money or the Gun . His reading of Dorothea Mackellar's poem "My Country", which included the lines "I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains" was so widely-played in Australia during the 1970s that it was also frequently parodied. [ citation needed ]

Australian honours

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 1992 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to the performing arts and community. [8]

Personal life

Married three times, Leonard Teale had four children, Amanda, Juli, Jennifer and Melinda. He married his third wife, entertainer Liz Harris in 1968 (who had appeared in three episodes of Homicide). Leonard Teale died of a heart attack in 1994. A documentary, Homicide: 30 Years On, aired later that year which included reminiscences from former Homicide castmates and footage of an appearance made by himself and Homicide actors George Mallaby and Alwyn Kurts in 1992 presenting a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Series partially in character (with hilarious results). [ citation needed ]


1949 Eureka Stockade
1955Call for Order
1956 Smiley Ernie(segment "The Load of Wood")
1958 Smiley Gets a Gun Mr. Stevens
1960 The Sundowners Shearer #2
1961 Telestory Himselfnarrator of the novel Sundowners
1961 Bungala Boys Sam Taylor
1961 In Writing TV movie
1962Lend Me Your Stable
1981 Maybe This Time The Minister
1983 The Body Corporate Sir Arthur TustrainTV movie
1984Stanley1st Detective [9]
1985 Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin Used-to-Was4 episodes, (final appearance)


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  1. "Teale, Leonard George (1922-1994)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  2. Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. p. 124-127.
  3. John, Peter. "Raymond Charles Hanson profile: Australian Dictionary of Biography". Adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  4. "Connie Healy: Women in Radical Theatre in Brisbane" (PDF). Roughreds.com. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  5. "Beyond Right and Left". Beyond Right and Left. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. "8 September 1954 - Cabinet Sees Royal Visit Film". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. Originally Teale had been signed for 13 episodes, but went on to become the longest-serving series regular (357 episodes).
  8. "It's an Honour". Itsanhonour.gov.au. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  9. Harrison, Tony The Australian Film and Television Companion Simon & Schuster 1994; ISBN   0-7318-0455-4
  10. "Leonard Teale: Famous Australian Poems". Finepoets.com. Retrieved 13 March 2013.