Norman Kaye

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

Norman Kaye
Norman James Kaye

(1927-01-17)17 January 1927
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died28 May 2007(2007-05-28) (aged 80)
OccupationActor, musician
Years active1961–2004

Early life and educationEdit

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.[1]


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.

Caulfield Grammar SchoolEdit

He was the choirmaster and the music teacher at Caulfield Grammar School from 1958 to 1977,[2] during which time he "[laid] the foundation for [the school's] … high reputation on the world of music [and it was his] enthusiasm and constructive knowledge [that] made choral singing and the playing of orchestral instruments activities of a central rather than peripheral importance to the school."[3] It was the security of a teacher's salary that allowed Kaye to explore the acting world.[1]


As an actor, he was strongly associated with the films of Paul Cox, appearing in 16 of them.[1] 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.[1][4]


In 2007 a retrospective CD The Remarkable Norman Kaye was issued by Move Records.[5]

Select creditsEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • 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)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "A remarkable life". The Age. 9 July 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  2. ^ Webber (1981), p.268.
  3. ^ Webber (1981), pp.255–256.
  4. ^ Hawker, Philippa (31 May 2007). "'Modest, quietly intense' actor dies". The Age. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  5. ^ News – Move Records


  • Webber, Horace (1981). Years May Pass On... Caulfield Grammar School, 1881–1981. Centenary Committee, Caulfield Grammar School, (East St Kilda). ISBN 0-9594242-0-2.

External linksEdit