Actor Caton back to say farewells
THE butter factory changed our lives.
That one sentence by acclaimed Australian actor Michael Caton showed the impact an event 64 years ago had on the Packed to the Rafters star and his family.
On October 9, 1945, the actor’s father, 42-year-old Septimus Caton was accidentally killed while working on the engines in the Biloela butter factory.
Born in Monto in 1943, Michael was just under two years of age when his father died.
“It turned our lives upside down when our father died,” he said.
Sadly Michael has no memories of his dad, and said his sister, three at the time, has only faint memories while his oldest sister still has strong memories of him.
“She went up to see him at the factory on the day it happened and they sent her home – someone was on the way to Mum with the bad news.
“You wouldn’t get her back to Biloela – too many bad memories,” the 66-year-old actor said.
“When I think about my father, I feel a sort of emptiness because I would have liked to have known him.
“He sounds like someone who was quite a special person,” Michael said.
“I had a lot of uncles who did a great job (as male role models).”
Michael will come back to farewell the butter factory at the Last Chance Ball on February 27.
He said it wouldn’t be his first time back to Biloela, but he has not been back to his father’s grave for about 10 years.
He said the first time he returned was a “very emotional time”.
Michael is bringing his younger sister to the ball – her first time back in Biloela.
Their mother, who never re-married, will turn 100 this year, but is too frail to travel.
Septimus was buried in the old Biloela cemetery where his headstone still bears the inscription, “My Dear Husband”.
“She wants her ashes buried there,” Michael said of his mum.
After their father’s death, the family moved to Longreach and then Brisbane, where Michael did amateur theatre at night and worked by day.
He gradually did more acting and, as he put it, “before I knew it I was a professional actor”.
Michael moved to Sydney to pursue his career, where he still resides.
He is best known for playing Uncle Harry in the television series, The Sullivans, and Darryl Kerrigan in the popular 1997 Australian film, The Castle.
Michael appeared in the 1971 Melbourne production of the rock musical Hair, the risqué 1990s soap opera Chances, the American comedy The Animal, and Strange Bedfellows with Paul Hogan.
More recently he has hosted some TV programs, done voiceovers including McDonald’s ads and starred as Ted Taylor in Packed to the Rafters.