Gordon Mulholland worked his way into the business through bit parts on British feature films, notably playing 'a lunatic' in the wonderfully monickered madcap comedy, The Lady Craved Excitement (1950), and a small part in Disney's live-action version of Treasure Island shot in the UK in the same year. He also appeared in Cheer the Brave (1951), one of those quota quickies from Britain that barely touches an hour in terms of duration. By the Sixties, Gordon was appearing alongside the likes of Richard Todd in films such as Coast of Skeletons (1964), an adventure yarn based on an Edgar Wallace story.

His career had begun during the Second World War, when he would perform stand-up comedy for the troops. On one occasion, Mulholland played to dead silence; he had not been told by his fellow comedians that his audience was composed of a group of Polish soldiers who didn't speak a word of English! Mulholland would relate this anecdote many times in the later years. He went on to appear on the London stage, including a run of the Cole Porter musical, Kiss Me Kate at the Coliseum in 1951.

By 1967, when he appeared in The Cape Town Affair with James Brolin and Jacqueline Bisset, Mulholland had moved to South Africa, where lived for the rest of his life. In his time there, he was successful in the theatre (his production of Charley's Aunt was highly acclaimed), radio (appearing in countless Springbok Radio productions), film (in which he appeared alongside the likes of Gary Busey, Robert Vaughan, Donald Pleasance and Herbert Lom) and television (where he played regularly in Isidingo, a high-profile SABC3 soap opera).

In his radio days, Gordon was reknowned as something of a joker. Despite the quality of the product, which cannot be denied, behind the scenes the actors got up to all sorts of mischief. On occasion, scripts were set alight while they were being read from, and Mulholland was known to refuse to make space for fellow actors at the mike. Occasionally, he would nudge them in the ribs, causing them to grunt or groan, and this had to be covered up with a quick, off-the-cuff line of explanation. "It was like a rugby scrum around the mike, survival of the fittest," Mulholland would later comment with a twinkle in his eye, recalling the golden days of Springbok Radio with some nostalgia: "We lived for a laugh, a drink and a guinea" (the payment for recording one episode). 

On television in South Africa, Gordon starred as mining boss Hilton McRae in The Villagers from 1976-1978. Depicting life in a small mining town on the Rand, it was notable as the first English-language drama series to air on South African television. It was the production regarded as the one that made Gordon a household name in the country.

Gordon's health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke in 2009. He moved to East London in the Eastern Cape province to live with his son. He  died on 30th June in East London, South Africa, at the age of 89. His close friend and fellow Avengers guest player Clive Scott paid tribute to him: "I have a million memories of Gordon. We worked together a lot. We took shows on the road. We co-produced shows. He was very funny. He always entertained me. We used to go out for coffee in Melville every Tuesday. He loved being recognised. Gordon was a great charmer."

by Alan Hayes

 

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