John William Pilbean Goffage (1909-1971), actor, was born on 26 March 1909 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, son of John Goffage, from England, and his wife Violet Maud Edyth, née Joyce.
With his thin build and height of 6 ft 6 ins (198 cm), and an irreverent sense of humour, Goffage first entered show business as a magician’s assistant, then was hired as an extra in a film, Come up Smiling (1939), produced in Sydney.
He attracted attention in a small role as a gangling member of a slapstick bushfire-fighting team in Dad Rudd, M.P. (1940), and was promptly cast as the comic lead in Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940), Charles Chauvel ‘s much-publicized tribute to the Australian Light Horse in the Sinai desert campaign of World War I.
An outstanding commercial success at home, the film screened favourably in Britain and the United States of America, bringing ‘Chips Rafferty’ (the screen-name Goffage adopted) instant fame in Australia.
On 28 May 1941 at the registrar general’s office, Sydney, Goffage married Ellen Kathleen Jameson, a 37-year-old dressmaker. On 29 May 1941 Goffage had enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force.
On secondment, he acted in several Australian propaganda films for the Department of Information, including South West Pacific (1943), and in a second feature film for Chauvel, The Rats of Tobruk (1944).
Rafferty’s first postwar film, The Overlanders (1946), marked a turning-point in his career. He was cast by British director Harry Watt in the role of a bushman who headed a team which drove a vast herd of cattle across northern Australia beyond the reach of possible Japanese invaders.
With a brilliant background in documentary, Watt was determined to create authentic Australian characters in his factually based drama. Under his perceptive and disciplined direction, Rafferty moulded the character of the tough, laconic Australian bushman which he continued to play, with minor variations, for the rest of his life, both in public and on screen.
Following a postwar decline in local production, Rafferty took numerous roles in British and American films made on location in Australia, most notably Bitter Springs (1950), Kangaroo (1952), Smiley (1956) and The Sundowners (1960).
He continued to work as an actor at home and abroad in films such as They’re a Weird Mob (1966) and Double Trouble (1967) with Elvis Presley.
He also made numerous guest appearances on Australian television, in variety shows, in Australian series like ‘Skippy’ (1970), and in American series which included ‘The Wackiest Ship in the Army’ (1967) and ‘Tarzan’ (1969).
Chips died suddenly of lung disease and heart failure on 27 May, 1971, at Elizabeth Bay, Sydney.
via Australian Dictionary of Biography