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Alexander, Hal (1902–1990)

Hal Alexander (1902-1990): Born Newcastle, NSW.  Married Madonna Irene Siostrom in 1924. They later divorced. Married June Margaret Humphrey in 1976. Died 20 June 1990.

Grew up in Newcastle NSW, working at various jobs, including time as a printer with the Newcastle Morning Herald. A member of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and the Australian Railways Union (ARU). A keen dancer, instruction developed his tap dancing skills, and led to work at a movie theatre in Adelaide with partner Jimmy Hart. Relocating to Melbourne he worked at the Tivoli, and at suburban halls, including the Royal Hall, Footscray – but always on meagre wages. He moved into musical comedy and, once only, to pantomine. Mounted touring show of rural New South Wales but during Depression it was common for actors not to be paid. Did shows gratis for UWM in Port Melbourne Town Hall, 1933-34. Began to agitate for unionism among theatre performances when working for J.C. Williamson, but was sacked for militancy, which strengthened his resolve to improve conditions and pay in industry. 1939, became General Secretary, Actor’s Equity, affiliating union with Trades and Labor Councils and with ACTU. First tasks included campaigns to secure improved wages for chorus girls and broadcast rights for performers. Under his leadership union secured rehearsal pay, minimum rates, standard contracts, repeat and residual fees. A committed socialist and militant.

Lowenstein 1978; Tribune, 11 July 1990; Equity, Nov 1990, Labor News, Feb 1948

Original Publication

  • Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975, 2012

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Citation details

'Alexander, Hal (1902–1990)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 8 May 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012