William Alfred Gibson

Film Producer & Businessman 150 Years: 150 Lives

Recognised “as the father of the cinema industry”, Gibson was born in London and migrated to Victoria as a teenager.  In 1900 whilst working for “William Johnson & Son” (18 Punt Road, Windsor) as a chemist, Gibson bought a film projector and began screening imported short ‘films’ with Millard Johnson.  Their firm “Johnson & Gibson” established a highly successful circuit of ‘six penny pops’ in various Melbourne suburban halls on Saturday nights attracting huge crowds.  Gibson's big break came in 1906 when the company formed a partnership with the famous Tait brothers (John and Nevin) to produce the world's first feature film - “The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) filmed exclusively at Charles Tait’s (Springvale Necropolis) property at Mitcham over six days and costing some £1,000.  In 1911 they merged their interests to establish “Amalgamated Pictures Ltd” and with Gibson as joint managing director the firm built the St. Kilda Theatre as a new studio and the following year Australia’s first luxury cinema the Majestic Theatre (Flinders Street, Melbourne); other companies were formed over the years and today, the Greater Union cinemas is a result of this alliance.  The company continued to produce films on a modest scale from Fergus Hume’s “The mystery of a hansom cab (1911) to “Painted Daughters” (1925).  Described as “hollow-cheeked and grey-faced…a tireless hard worker” Gibson was awarded the O.B.E in 1920 for patriotic services to the community.  He died on 6 October 1929 at Dandenong and was buried by “W. G. Apps & Sons” the following day.

(above) William Gibson

(By permission of the National Library of Australia, nla.pic-anan10046161)

(above) Monumental Headstone


ADB Volume 8 1891-1939 (Cl-Gib).

The Age 7 October 1929.

The Argus 7 October 1929.

The Herald 7 October 1929.

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Last Updated: 02-Dec-2018 11:50.