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Screen "Smithy^ chosen from sixty applicants

Radio actor Ron Randell will play role of famous airman

By PEG MCCARTNEY

ISIR -CHARLES KINGSFORD

SMITH, photographed on his ar- rival at Mascot after his record breaking flight across the Pacific.

AFTER SIGNING his contract at Columbia, Ron Randell looks over the script for the "Smithy" film. With him are producer Mr. N. Pery

and director Mr. K. Hall.

Ron Randell has been selected from over sixty appli- cants to portray Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in the Columbia film based on the life and career of the world famous Australian aviator.

For nearly twelve months, Columbia producer Mr. Nick Pery and director Mr. Ken Hall have made exhaustive tests to find the actor most capable of bringing the much-loved "Smithy" to the screen. The tests have included Australia's best-known actors as well as overseas personalities.

IN appearance, 26-year-old

Ron Randell doesn't greatly resemble Sir Charles. "Smithy" was lean and wiry. Ron has an athlete's solid physique. "Smithy" was fair, while Ron has dark

brown hair and eyes. But Ron has that rare quality of enthusiasm and boundless vigor which characterised "Smithy," and is so much more important than a mere simi- larity of features.

Mr. N. Pery, managing director of Columbia Pictures, said: "Randell has been selected not only for his achievements as a fine actor, but as the type of virile Australian who embodies the spirit and qualities so typified by 'Smithy.' We have taken a long time over our selection, but we are extremely happy with our choice."

If Mr. Pery is happy with the selection, Ron Randell was certainly wildly elated by the news.

"I can talk, and think of nothing else," he said. "I read all the books about 'Smithy' that I can get, and have been fortunate enough to find a lot of people who knew him inti- mately."

Now co-starring with Agnes Doy/e in "Voice of the Turtle," Ron dis

* covered the actress knew "Smithy" when they were both in America. "Ever since that discovery I've been driving her mad with questions,"

he added.

"Unfortunately I didn't meet

RON RANDELL, 26-year-old actor, well known in radio and on the stage, was selected from over 60 applicants for the coveted role of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in Columbia's film based on the life of

the former aviator.

'Smithy'-I was just one of the thousands of kids who lined the city streets to cheer him after his trans-Pacific flight. However, in the last few weeks, I have talked

about him so much, and learnt such a lot of his background and life his- tory, that I already feel as if I had been a personal friend.

"I am hoping this film will mean the realisation of a lifelong ambi- tion-and that is to learn to fly. I've only been on a plane trip once," Ron confessed. "That was in America from Burbank to Pitts- burgh.

"About ten years ago I went up in an autogyro out at Mascot, but we only went up about 100 feet, so I don't suppose that counts.

"When we start production, I will be surrounded by the top-line men of aviation, and with the original 'Southern Cross' for inspiration I've got great hopes that at last my dream is going to come true."

Ron made his professional debut at the age of fourteen. "It was the children's session, then conducted by the A.B.C.," he reluctantly admitted. However, Ron made rapid progress, and soon became one of Australia's most popular radio actors.

Stage experience

AT 19 he made his first stage ap-

pearance at the Minerva Theatre, where he appeared with Fifi Ban vard in "Quiet Wedding." In Stein- beck's play, "Of Mice and Men," he established himself as a capable dramatic actor. He frequently ap- pears in the Lux* radio plays and is featured in several radio serials.

In 1943, Ron visited America, where he gained valuable altin; experience. He appeared with screen stars Robert Young and Peter Van Eyck in the Columbia Broadcast series, "Passport for Adams," and in the San Francisco stage show, "Mr. and Mrs. North," in which he co-starred with Nancy Carroll.

"On the opening night of 'Mr. and Mrs. North,' San Francisco experi- enced a rather bad earthquake," Ron recalled.

"I thought at first they were mov- ing scenery behind the set, and was duly irritated. When the theatre started to rock, the audi- ence got panicky and the stage manager suddenly appeared through the boudoir door, I knew something ! was definitely wrong. We managed to i placate the pedpTe, but I guess that's ' about the nearest I ever came to

j bringing the house down."

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