All Saints: articles

Mark Priestley

All Saints star Mark Priestley's death shocks cast, fans

HOURS after All Saints star Mark Priestley lifted the hit soapie to victory in the TV ratings war, fans and friends were mourning his shock death.

The popular actor's long-awaited on-screen marriage drew 1.7 million views nationally.

Priestley, 32, who had been with the show for four years, died without knowing his All Saints wedding was a smash hit.

He had left the set of Channel 7's medical drama only a few hours before he was found dead on the scaffolding of a building in Sydney's CBD at 2pm on Wednesday.

He had jumped from the 23rd floor of the Swissotel where he had checked in alone under the name Damian Barker about 11.30am.

Sources said he had asked for a room with a balcony.

Swissotel marketing manager Georgina Williams said hotel staff were working with police. "It's terribly sad," she said. "I am a fan of the show myself."

Sources say Priestley took his life after recently breaking up with his long-time love, playwright and actor Kate Mulvany.

It is believed he had long suffered depression and it was not the first time he had attempted suicide.

The Sydney-based pair, both originally from Perth, had been together for a number of years, and Priestley was said to be devastated when their relationship ended a few weeks ago.

The couple travelled around the world in December and January, visiting New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and London.

Priestley, who moved from Western Australia in 1997 to study acting at NIDA, landed the coveted All Saints role in 2004 after small guest stints on The Secret Life of Us and Blue Heelers.

Filming of All Saints was halted yesterday for at least 24 hours as cast members mourned the loss of their friend.

Priestley was behind a huge ratings surge for the show on Tuesday night -- it averaged 1.7 million views to win the night.

Viewers tuned in to see his character, Dan Goldman, marry Erica Templeton, played by Jolene Anderson, after a lengthy on-screen relationship. Anderson, who injured her arm in a car crash this week, was inconsolable when told of Priestley's death.

She cancelled her appearance last night in her one-woman Sydney stage show Tell Me On A Sunday.

"They were incredibly close," an All Saints spokeswoman said.

The devastated All Saints cast, which includes stars John and Tammy Howard, Judith McGrath and John Waters, said they would treasure the memories they had.

"In each and every moment Mark spent with us on All Saints he gave his all," they said in a statement.

"To have worked with him was a privilege. To have been able to call him a friend was a priceless gift."

The death is the second shock to All Saints after actor Virginia Gay was badly beaten in Sydney in June.

John Howard, who plays Dr Frank Campion, said Priestley was a fine actor: "He had the most extraordinary combination of very deft comic touch and great emotional depth."

John Waters, who plays Dr Mike Vlasek, was stunned.

"I worked with him on stage and on screen and will miss him more than I can say right now," Waters said.

"Mark the actor was intuitive, and graced every scene in which he appeared with a touch of whimsical genius that only he could apply."

Wil Traval, who plays Dr Jack Quade, described his friend as a gift. "It's so sad," he said. "He has some quiet from the pain now."

Series producer Bill Hughes said he had lost a friend.

"His work as an actor is always inventive and his performance in All Saints is a joy to watch," Hughes said.

Bell Shakespeare founder John Bell said the death was a tragic loss. Priestley toured Australia with the theatrical company in 2005 on The Servant of Two Masters.

"He proved himself a classic comedian with a natural charm and ability to improvise," Bell said.

"I saw him in a number of other stage productions and am convinced he had a great career ahead of him.

"He was surrounded by a close network of friends who were aware of his emotional fragility and gave him all the support they could."

ANYONE with personal problems can call: Lifeline on 131 114; Victorian Statewide Suicide Helpline on 1300 651 251; or Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978

Jane Metlikovec
August 29, 2008
Herald Sun