Performance costume, mens suit, wool / cotton, made by Crawford Productions, Australia, worn by Michael Caton as 'Uncle Harry' in the television program 'The Sullivans', Australia, 1976-1982
The significance of this 1940s style suit is that it was worn by Michael Caton in the Australian television series 'The Sullivans'. For his portrayal of the affable, knockabout Uncle Harry Sullivan, Caton won a 1980 Logie award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series. A renowned character actor, Caton has also appeared on television in 'The Flying Doctors', 'Blue Heelers', 'Home and Away', 'A Country Practice', 'Cop Shop', 'Homicide', 'Hot Property' and 'Dancing with the Stars'. He also played Darryl Kerrigan in the film comedy 'The Castle'.
'The Sullivans' was made by the independent, Melbourne-based company Crawford Productions. From the 1950s Hector and Dorothy Crawford had crusaded to convince politicians and television stations that, although American imports were cheaper, Australian TV drama was a moral necessity and crucial to forging a sense of national identity. The success of 'Homicide' in the mid-1960s proved that the local product could compete against imports and be a regular part of TV scheduling.
When three of their police drama series, 'Homicide', 'Division 4' and 'Matlock Police', were cancelled early in 1976, Crawford Productions quickly bounced back with 'The Sullivans'. Produced for the Nine Network, it offered a nostalgic view of Australian family life during World War II. Starting in 1976, it overtook Ten's 'Number 96' as the top-rating program nationally. Perhaps audiences found its wholesome, old-fashioned values a relief from the salacious content of 'Number 96'. These values were embodied in the character of Grace Sullivan, who was portrayed by Lorraine Bayly as the ideal woman and the perfect mother. Grace's death in a 1944 London air raid while nursing her son John is remembered as a classic TV moment. Unfortunately the show's huge ratings fell after her demise and it ceased production in 1982.
Like 'A Country Practice' on the Seven Network, 'The Sullivans' was a long-running and much loved drama series. Both deployed narrative techniques that were partly episodic and partly continuous. Their large casts were typical of serial dramas but the production values were higher than other 'soaps' of the time. As executive producer of 'The Sullivans', Hector Crawford disliked the term 'soap' being applied to his dramas. Crawford Productions remained a major player through to the 1980s, with the airport drama 'Skyways' and the long-running 'Flying Doctors'. Hector Crawford was the first person to be inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame, in 1984.
No maker's label. Probably hand-made to fit Michael Caton by a tailor or wardrobe assistant for Crawford Productions in the mid to late 1970s.
Supplied to Michael Caton by the Wardrobe Department of Crawford Productions and worn by him in the role of Uncle Harry on many episodes of the Australian television series 'The Sullivans', 1976-1982. Lent by Michael Caton to the Powerhouse Museum for display in the exhibition 'On the box: Great moments in Australian television' and subsequently donated to the Museum.