Friday, January 22, 2010

RIP: The Dancing Man

A colleague sent me an email that Frank McAlary had died. I believe that my colleague sent that message because McAlary had, in his day, been a well known and highly respected QC.

He also had another claim to fame, that of being the person most likely to be the Dancing Man, the man filmed by Movietone News dancing in Sydney’s George Street on 15 August 1945 to celebrate the end of WW2.

Although there have been other contenders to the title, various persons (including at least one barrister and one judge) have sworn that they were with McAlary at the time of the display of happy footwork. Forensic analysis for the TV show Where Are They Now? further supported McAlary as the likely candidate.

Mr Chester Porter, QC, said: "Blind Freddy could see it's Frank McAlary. We were together in third-year Law School in 1945. VP Day opened as an ordinary working day but was suddenly declared a public holiday. Frank was an exuberant character and was dancing around. He'd had nothing to drink. A cameraman said, 'Sonny, that's pretty good. Would you mind doing it again so we could film it?'. He did."

The clip can be viewed at the website of the National Film & Sound Archive at:

The following is from that same site:

This dancing man is one of the best-known images of the celebrations at the end of the Second World War. His brief (eight second) appearance, captured on film in George Street, between King Street and Martin Place on 15 August 1945, has been replayed countless times and come to encapsulate the spontaneity of emotion throughout the nation on that day.

In the years since this newsreel was first shown, the mystery surrounding the dancer’s name has compounded the fascination with this audiovisual record. Even now, his identity remains in dispute and a number of men over the years have claimed to be the figure in the newsreel. But whatever the genesis of this scene, it illustrates how resonant icons can make historic news events timeless and, in doing so, embed themselves into the national consciousness.

 McAlary died of a heart attack on 17 January 2010, aged 86.

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