Sydney thug was world's first movie star
1871 Young Griffo (Albert Griffiths; d. December 7, 1927), Australian boxer, Lightweight Boxing Champion of the World.
Young Griffo was born at Sofala on the goldfields of New South Wales, and grew up in the tough dockside district of Millers Point in Sydney (where Griffo is the usual nickname for anyone named Griffiths). There he sold newspapers for a living and learned to bare-knuckle fight. Australian boxer Larry Foley saw him in a street fight and added him to the Foley's Hall stable, and in 1893 the champion Young Griffo left for the USA, departing Sydney with his entourage on the same steamship as Robert Louis Stevenson.
Griffo's brilliant career in America came to a grinding end in New York City in 1895, at the peak of his international fame, after he was convicted of raping William Gottlieb, an 11-year-old boy. He spent the last three decades of his life drinking himself to death, was arrested for public drunkenness on numerous occasions, sometimes committed to psychiatric hospitals, worked in Tommy Burns's troupe for a time, and famously sat vacantly for years begging in Times Square, a familiar figure on the steps of the Rialto Theater.
He was also the star of Young Griffo vs. Battling Charles Barnett (filmed on the roof of Madison Square Garden, May 4, 1895), the first motion picture in the world to be screened before a paying audience, at 153 Broadway in New York City. It premiered on May 20, 1895, more than seven months before the Lumière brothers showed their film at the Grand Cafe on the Boulevard des Capucines, Paris, on December 28 – the event usually said to be the first movie-by-ticket screening in the world ...
Tagged: sport, cinema, australia, history, movies, australian+history