Port and Australia’s original Hollywood superstar re-discovered

LOCAL heritage consultant Mitch McKay has uncovered the remarkable story of Australia’s first ever Hollywood film star and Port Macquarie born actor Clyde Wilfred Cook.

Cook may have had his star inscribed on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame with the likes of Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman.

But until now, his incredible life story remained largely untold in his country of birth.

Mr McKay hopes his new book Gone but not forgotten: the Clyde Cook story, will give some recognition to Port Macquarie’s very own home-grown star.

Cook had a prolific film and vaudeville career spanning some 60 years.

He appeared with Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Charles Laughton, Oliver Hardy and Shirley Temple and was involved in some sensational court cases, Mr McKay said. 

“With such a stellar career, and a colourful life, it makes it all the more remarkable that his name is virtually unknown in his home country, or that his story has never really been told in any depth before now. I really just think it’s fallen through the cracks.”

If not for stumbling upon an old snippet in the Port News, Cook’s story may have remained untold, Mr McKay said.

“Port Macquarie residents have been looking expectantly forward to the return of Clyde Cook, a son of Mr Jack Cook of Hamilton,” said the article dated Saturday, July 13, 1907.

After more than a year of tireless research, Mr McKay said: “It’s scary to think I tend to be the authority on a person I’ve never met. Until this book was launched, I think I knew him better than his family.”

The long-lost Australian icon was born in the small town of Hamilton, Port Macquarie on December 16, 1889.

His decision to deliberately learn show-stopping tricks led him down the path of an acrobatic career that would, in later years, be played out not only on stage but see him doing his own stunts as a lead Hollywood actor.

The book follows Clyde’s career through vaudeville, silent movies and all the way to Hollywood blockbusters.

You can purchase a copy of the book at www.pmheritage.com.au

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