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Neville Hamlin Teede (1924–1992)

by Bill Dunstone and Joan Pope

This article was published:

Neville Hamlin Teede (1924–1992), actor and university lecturer, was born on 10 January 1924 at Bunbury, Western Australia, second surviving son of Western Australian-born parents Douglas Vernon Teede, barber, and his wife Agnes Christine, née Delfs. Neville attended Bunbury Central School from 1930 to 1936, and Bunbury High School from 1937 to 1941.

Having served briefly with the 29th Garrison Battalion, Citizen Military Forces, Teede enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 18 November 1942. He trained as a navigator in Australia and England, and in August 1944 joined No. 462 Squadron. Reported missing when his Halifax heavy bomber was shot down near Dortmund, Germany, on 8 March 1945, he was taken prisoner but rescued later in the month by American forces. On 14 April he was promoted to temporary warrant officer. Returning to Australia in July, he was discharged on 20 December.

Under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, Teede studied English at the University of Western Australia (BA Hons, 1950) and gained a licentiate diploma (1948) in speech from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. President of the University Dramatic Society in 1948 and 1951, he participated in fifteen student productions, including Silver Cord, performed at the inaugural Intervarsity Drama Festival held in Melbourne in 1946. At the Western Australian Drama Festival in 1949, he was named best principal actor for his role in Love for Love. As editor of the St George’s College student magazine, The Dragon, in 1947, he had supported the wider movement for an Australian national theatre.

Following brief appointments as temporary tutor in English (1949–51) at the University of Western Australia, Teede undertook professional training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, England. He joined the Old Vic Theatre Company in 1953, playing supporting roles in its London productions and its 1954 tour of Europe. He met his life partner, Canadian-born interior designer Keir Matheson, at this time. Over the next two years he performed with professional repertory companies across England, including Theatre Centre, and worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1956, at the invitation of the director of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, Hugh Hunt, he returned to Australia to play in Ned Kelly and The Rainmaker.

Back in Perth, Teede performed major roles under contract with the National Theatre Company at the Playhouse Theatre (1956–59). Reappointed tutor in English at the University of Western Australia in 1957, he was promoted to permanent senior tutor in 1962 and lecturer in 1968. The terms of his employment enabled him to combine academic duties with regular appearances as a professional actor. He retired from the university in 1985.

Teede had studied music and singing with Alice Mallon-Muir in Perth (1961–62). The following year he was a co-founder of Bankside Theatre Productions, a professional-amateur group based at the University of Western Australia’s Old Dolphin Theatre. In 1964 he starred in the National Theatre Company’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He appeared regularly with the Hole in the Wall Theatre Company, and had major successes in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1977) and A Man of Many Parts (1980). He gave his farewell performance in The Cherry Orchard at the Playhouse Theatre in 1990. 

Well-built and of above average height, Teede often appeared larger than life, the result of his theatrical carriage and voice as an actor and singer. He was equally at home playing a Restoration fop or an Australian larrikin. His performances imparted an infectious energy and camaraderie. An examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board in speech and drama, Teede was also a significant exhibitor and judge of poodles; his book of light verse, Whose Dog Are You?, was published in 1982. In 1989 he recorded sound cassettes to accompany four books by Cliff Moon on animals in the wild. He and Matheson liked to entertain, gathering friends and colleagues around their dining table. Survived by Matheson, Teede died of cancer on 10 November 1992 in Perth and was cremated.

Research edited by Rani Kerin

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra Times. ‘A Formidable Talent.’ 8 March 1967, 23
  • Daily News (Perth, WA). ‘Bunbury Student to Seek Fame on English Stage.’ 12 July 1949, 4
  • National Archives of Australia. AWM65, 4992
  • National Archives of Australia. A705, 166/39/507
  • National Archives of Australia. A9301, 436224
  • South Western Times (Bunbury, WA). ‘Two Bunbury Lads Figure in Grim Exploits of Australian Air-Crew Shot Down in Germany.’ 3 May 1945, [12]
  • University of Western Australia Archives. Neville Hamlin Teede. Staff File P789 cons. 116
  • University of Western Australia Archives. Teede, Neville Hamlin (436224 W/O). Student File M10096738 cons. 510.  

Citation details

Bill Dunstone and Joan Pope, 'Teede, Neville Hamlin (1924–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2016, accessed online 22 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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