Norman James Kaye (17 January 1927 â€" 28 May 2007) was an Australian actor and musician. He was best known for his roles in the films of director Paul Cox.


Kaye was born in Melbourne and won a scholarship to study at Geelong Grammar School. His parents were distant, and both died early, his mother in a psychiatric hospital. He was an exemplary musician; he was noticed by Dr A E Floyd, the organist of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, who gave him free tuition in recognition of his great potential as an organist. He travelled to France to study the organ with Pierre Cochereau at Notre Dame de Paris, and he won a Premier Prix for conducting at the Nice Conservatoire.

As an adult he was the choirmaster and music teacher at Caulfield Grammar School from 1958 to 1977. It was the security of a teacher's salary that allowed Kaye to explore the acting world.

As an actor he was strongly associated with the films of Paul Cox, appearing in 16 of them. He had small roles in Cox's Illuminations (1976) and Kostas (1979), and shared the lead with Wendy Hughes in Cox's 1982 film Lonely Hearts and the lead in Man of Flowers (1983), for which he won an AFI Award. He appeared in minor roles in many subsequent Cox films including Innocence (2000). Other films in which he appeared included Mad Dog Morgan, Turtle Beach, Oscar and Lucinda and Moulin Rouge!. He also wrote a number of film scores.

Kaye is the subject of Cox's biographical film The Remarkable Mr Kaye (2005), a tribute to their long standing friendship and working relationship.

Norman Kaye was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease prior to 1997. His inability to memorize scripts for the film Innocence led to the end of his collaboration with Paul Cox. Kaye was in the advanced stage of the disease at the time of his death in Sydney on 28 May 2007. He had enjoyed a 35-year relationship with the opera director Elke Neidhardt, and she was at his side at his death. In 2007 a retrospective CD The Remarkable Norman Kaye was issued by Move Records.

Select credits

Norman Kaye
  • Illuminations (1976)
  • Mad Dog Morgan (1976)
  • Inside Looking Out (1977)
  • Kostas (1979)
  • Lonely Hearts (1982)
  • Man of Flowers (1983)
  • Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)
  • Cactus (1986)
  • I Own the Racecourse (1985)
  • The Riddle of the Stinson (1987)
  • Bangkok Hilton (1989)
  • Golden Braid (1990)
  • A Woman's Tale (1991)
  • Broken Highway (1993)
  • Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
  • Oscar and Lucinda (1997)
  • Moulin Rouge! (2001)
  • Human Touch (2004)

Awards and nominations

Norman Kaye
  • 1983 AFI Award: Best Actor in a Lead Role (Man of Flowers)
  • 1982 Nominated for AFI Award: Best Actor in a Lead Role (Lonely Hearts)


External links

  • Norman Kaye at the Internet Movie Database
  • Years May Pass On... (Caulfield Grammar School 1881â€"1981) by Horace Weber ISBN 0-9594242-0-2
  • Obituary in The Age, 31 May 2007, by Fabian Muir, Elke Neidhardt's son whom Norman Kaye helped to raise.
  • Muir, Fabian. "Norman Kaye, Artist and Composer", Move Records, Obituary as reproduced from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 2007.

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