Australian TV icon, A Country Practice star Brian Wenzel dies ‘peacefully’ ahead of 95th birthday

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
2 Min Read
You may remember Adelaide Icon, Brian Wenzel from A Country Practice, where he played the part of Wombat loving Cop, Frank Gilroy.

An icon of Australian television, whose career spanned almost eight decades, Brian Wenzel, has died aged 94.

The beloved actor and comedian — best known for playing Frank Gilroy on the Channel 7 show A Country Practice — is understood to have died at an Adelaide nursing home.

Wenzel’s agent Jennifer Hennessy paid tribute to the “passionate family man” and icon of the Australian screen in a statement.

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“It is with great sadness that we remember the life of beloved Australian actor Brian Wenzel,” she said.

“His iconic and revered performances spanned multiple Australian generations with his wit and humour shining through to the end.

Brian Wenzel was one of the most recognisable faces on Australian screens from the 1970s through to the 90s.
Brian Wenzel died age 94. Credit: Supplied

It is understood Wenzel had been in nursing care for about 15 months. He would have turned 95 on May 24.

Wenzel leaves a near eight decade legacy in Australian entertainment — starting on-stage at age 17 in a comedy play, before moving to film and TV, where he gained national accalaim. He even had a stint in the circus.

Tributes for the late showbiz legend poured in as news of his passing spread, with fans of A Country Practice thanking Wenzel for bringing to life “one of the best characters on Australian television” in Sergeant Frank Gilroy — a role he held for the program’s 14 seasons, from 1981 to 1993.

It was a role that won Wenzel the Silver Logie Award for Best Actor in 1981.

Former actor, comedian and Logie winner Brian Wenzel has died aged 94. He was renowned for playing Sgt Frank Gilroy in A Country Practice
Wenzel was renowned for playing Sgt Frank Gilroy in A Country Practice Credit: Supplied

Grant Dodwell, who played Wenzel’s on-screen son-in-law Dr Simon Bowan, remembered the late actor as “a legend” of Australian entertainment.

He told The Daily Telegraph he had “fond memories” of the man he called ‘Wenz’, many that are “sometimes a little difficult to tell publicly”.

“Wenz is absolutely a legend. All of us formed a very strong bond, which is still there today for the ones left standing simply because we were the underdog,” Dodwell said.

“You could tell there was an authenticity about Brian that he carried with him and that made him very accessible because what you saw was him. There wasn’t any airs or graces, he was very direct and you would love him for that.”

Wenzel was one of the most recognisable names and faces on Australian screens, big and small, from the 11970s to 90s.

He also starred in TV dramas Division 4, Matlock Police, Homicide, The Young Doctors, Certain Women and Cop Shop, and appeared in the films The Off Angry Shot (1979) and Alison’s Birthday (1981).

He later featured on Neighbours and had a brief stint on Rove Live in 2009.

More than his incredible legacy, Wenzel leaves his wife of 67 years, Linda, who told veteran showbiz reporter Craig Bennett her beloved husband died “peacefully” in an Adelaide nursing home.

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