Personal detailsName: Mel Gibson
Born: 3 January 1956 (Age: 57)
Where: Peekskill, New York, USA
Height: 5' 11"
Awards: Won 2 Oscars, 1 Golden Globe
All about this star
Way before Russell, Cate and Hugh Jackman, even before Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill, the Antipodes could boast of a mega-star in the Hollywood firmament. One of the brightest, in fact. Mel Gibson was without doubt one of the biggest action heroes of the Eighties and Nineties. Furthermore, when he decided to produce, direct and star in his own action movie, Braveheart, he even snapped up a couple of Oscars - a very, very rare occurrence in the genre. Following this with his self-financed mega-hit The Passion Of The Christ and the epic Apocalypto, he even looked set to out-do Clint Eastwood and become the most successful actor-turned-director of modern times.
Yet Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson isn't, strictly speaking, Australian at all. He was born on the 3rd of January, 1956, in Peekskill, New York, the sixth of eleven children. His father, Hutton, was a brakeman for New York Central Railroad and, considering New York City no place to raise children, moved the family north to Croton-on-Hudson, then on to nearby Verplanck Point and, by 1961, on to a farmhouse at Mount Vision. Times were hard and Hutton figured he'd run the farm and do his rail job too. So he spent weekdays in New York City while the family (isolated by mother Anne's inability to drive) stuck out on the farm. It was tough, but a great place to be a kid.
In 1964, disaster struck when Hutton suffered a serious work accident and lost his job. The Gibsons were forced to move into cheap rented accommodation, with the older children having to take jobs, while Hutton entered into a compensation battle with the company. It would take three years to work out. When it did, though, it worked out well. Hutton was a strict and traditional Catholic - having at one point studied for the priesthood - and did not really approve of the cultural changes in the Sixties, regarding the hippies' penchant for mind-expansion and promiscuity as a sad sign of moral decline. Consequently, when he won $145,000 compensation, and a further $21,000 from the Jeopardy! gameshow (very bright, the Gibsons), he decided to take the family to Australia, Anne's homeland (her mother had been an opera singer who'd emigrated to the States).
It's been said that the Gibsons moved to escape the draft for Vietnam. Not true. Hutton had served in WW2 and truly despised war, but his sons could still have been drafted from Australia. Indeed, Mel's eldest brother WAS drafted, only to fail the initial tests. Also, Anne had an extended family there which would surely help as Hutton recovered from the accident.
So, off they went, via Ireland, Scotland, England and Rome, where the kids were shown their Celtic heritage (Mel's the name of an Irish saint - and it's NOT Melvin) and spent time at the Vatican.