Norm Yemm RIP
Norm Yemm who was a well known actor in Homicide, The Sullivans, Number 96 and numerous other TV shows sadly passed away yesterday aged 81.
He also ran in the legendary Dandy Dollar Dash in the good old VFA days.
Norm also had a senior game with Port back in the late 50s.
Pretty sure his father played with Oakleigh in the late 20s and 30s and tasted premiership success with the Oaks.
Incredible career ... Norman Yemm played AFL for Port Melbourne, became one of the principal baritones for the Australian Opera Company and then went on to become a household name on television series such as Homicide and The Sullivans. Photo: The Age
Australian actor Norman Yemm has died, aged 81.
Though Yemm's career cut an unlikely swathe through the worlds of opera, musical theatre and Australian Rules football, he will be best remembered for roles in several iconic TV series including Homicide, Number 96 and The Sullivans.
Yemm was born in 1933 in Elsternwick, Victoria.
In his early life he was a professional runner and a footballer, playing for the Victorian Football Association club
But it was a musical scholarship that sent him to university and, afterward, onto the stage where he won lead roles in Oklahoma, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon and The Sound of Music.
At the age of 29 he became one of the principal baritones for the Australian Opera Company, where his credits included a lead role in Don Pasquale.
After almost five years he left opera and musical theatre to pursue a career as an actor and it was on television that Yemm found his greatest fame.
He was, by his own recollection, a "very poor auditionee."
"I've hardly got any work at all from auditions, I get too nervous, I get withdrawn and I don't give my best," he later recalled. "Nearly all my work I've got on the strength of my previous work."
But early roles on shows such as Hunter, Riptide, Boney and Division 4, coupled with his formidable 188 cm frame, led to a starring role in the iconic Seven Network police drama Homicide as Senior Detective Jim Patterson.
Homicide also set the stage for a curious pairing: Yemm's twin brother Gordon, who was not an actor, made a guest appearance as Eddie, Jim's twin brother.
Yemm later revealed that the pair had actually swapped roles. "When there was a difficult scene Gordon played the detective in two-shots while I played Eddie, and in close-up I played both roles and I did all the dialogue," he said.
He also praised Homicide for its authenticity.
"Homicide really was my first big break, I loved it," he said. "In those days we used to get a lot of fan mail sent to [the real] Russell Street police station. It just shows that people were convinced our roles were authentic."
Around the same time he was also cast as Harry Collins in Number 96, the womanising, beer-drinking, car salesman husband of fashion designer Vera Collins (Elaine Lee).
In many respects Collins was the antithesis of Jim Patterson: a trouble-making, ne'er-do-well.
In one of Number 96's most controversial storylines Harry raped his wife Vera. He was later killed, only to return and be jailed for fraud.
Like many actors of his era, Yemm also found regular work in Australia's booming film industry, though the titles themselves are sometimes unmemorable in the annals of cinema history: Night of Fear, The Fourth Wish and the softcore sexploitation film Plugg.
In 1976 Yemm was cast in The Sullivans as Norm Baker, an army comrade of the family patriarch Dave, who enlisted along with members of the Sullivan family at the beginning of World War II.
One of his co-stars on The Sullivans, the actress Lorraine Bayly, who played matriarch Grace Sullivan, paid tribute to Yemm.
Speaking to Fairfax Radio station 3AW, Bayly said he was "a lovely, lovely man and such a good actor. You could just rely on him totally."
He appeared in the long-running prison drama Prisoner as Eddie Stevens, the corrupt police officer husband of inmate Sonia Stevens (Tina Bursill).
He also appeared in Possession, The Flying Doctors, G.P., Neighbours, Blue Heelers and Something in the Air.
Yemm is survived by three children, one of whom is the actor Jodie Yemm