June 21, 2019


Writing an obituary for Bill Collins on a Nationalist website has an inverse subversiveness. Some might say he doesn’t belong here. Straight society might argue that he would have wished nothing to do with us, while Nationalists might see his association with Hollywood as being unsound. But we don’t really look at it like that. This is about Australia. In the case of Bill Collins, who has passed away aged 84, it is about losing yet another piece of Australian life. Because that is what he represented.

Before X-Box, before YouTube, before Netflix and even VHS recorders, Bill Collins formed part of the ambience of Australian life. His inoffensive presence in our living rooms, with his black-rimmed glasses and big cheery smile, assured us everything was okay. Back then only the rich could own movies, and if they didn’t have first-generation clunky video recorders chances are that they played on reel-to-reel movie projectors. The rest of us sat in front of the family TV set and let Bill introduce the movie with his familiar enthusiasm.

A movie without Bill Collins introducing it was a third-rate experience, not least because of his extensive knowledge of all things cinematic and Hollywood.

Many of us thought he was a poof. And many of us commented on how it wasn’t until about twenty years later that we learned he was married so he couldn’t have been. That cheered us up. Because Bill occupied that most sacred of spaces in our memories: that of nostalgia. Of course, ‘Mr Movies’ never disappeared, he hosted Golden Years of Hollywood on Foxtel up until 2018, but our best memories were those bygone days when the whole scenery of Australian life was different. It may not have been best, or worse, or whatever, but it was still Australia.

Pity the kids born after 1980 who never knew Australia, and who would be wondering why we’re bothering to reflect on an old TV host who promoted, of all things, Hollywood. Because he didn’t — he was a piece of Australia, as much as the blue gum, or the koala. Those days moved at a very different pace. There was no ‘transgender’ or ‘gay marriage’ or Africans breaking into people’s homes and chopping them up with machetes. Perhaps that is what we farewell as much as we do our memories of the man on the set.

Bill Collins with Roger Moore. That was pretty cool.

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