Date of Birth: 20/08/1932
Place of Birth: Greece
Date of Death: 03/03/2007
Place of Death: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
James (Takis) Kaldis was a Greek-born Australian politician. Kaldis was born in Greece in the village Boros (today known as Neohori) on 20 August 1931. He completed his High School Education in Mytilene in 1949. He was the oldest of the five children of Antonios Kaldelis and Marias Avgiris. Upon completing High School he migrated to Australia. He lived in Ipswich before moving to Sydney. As many of the migrants at the time, he had poor English.
At the age of 17, he participated in the well-known theatrical group of Mytilene: “The Bourini”. He had the lead role in a play that went up in Plomari, and the same year he had the lead role in a second and unforgettable play that went up in the villages Boros, Akrasi and Abeliko.
In 1950 he founded the “Filotehniko Omilo” and staged many theatrical plays of Greek and international repertoire. He was the stage director and actor. At the same time he participated in the well-known “New Theatre” .
Jim Kaldis joined NT in 1953 when he was a wharfie. He had worked in stylised Greek theatre, could cry on cue and was a talented comic actor but had poor English. In Mother Riba 1955 he was reviewed as playing the father Bennie Mendelsohn too much for laughs. In 1959 he visited the Institute of Drama in Shanghai and reported back to NT that he had watched a make-up class where ten people were being transformed into Lenin. In 1961 he acted in the Greek Theatre’s The Good Soldier Schweik and in NT’s return season of the same work in 1967 played the drunken pastor, a cameo part originally performed by Les Tanner. Kaldis had a role in the 1974 feature film Promised Woman. (source: http://newtheatrehistory.org.au/wiki/index.php/Person_-_Jim_Kaldis)
He was a founding member and licensee of the radio station 2EA (later SBS Radio), and directed the Greek programmes for the station.
He served as a member of the Greek Community in Sydney. At the age of 22 he held the position of secretary. He was also a founding member of the Ethnic Communities Council and was involved in various migrant organisations. He was the first General Secretary.
In 1955 he worked as a journalist and newspaper editor in Neos Kosmos, Panhellinios Kirikas, Nea Patrida, Elliniki Foni, O Kosmos. Year 2005 marked his 50th anniversary in the media. As a journalist he developed a great activity against the dictatorship in Greece in the years 1967-1974. The Greek junta abolished his Greek citizenship, which was reassigned to him right after the fall of the dictatorship (1974).In 1974-1975 he was appointed adviser to the Australian Press and Media Ministry.He took part in the establishment of the Council of Nationalities of Australia, which included 400 organizations and was Vice-President of the Council.In 1989 he was awarded the “Botsi” Journalism Prize in Greece. He is the first Greek living abroad journalist to receive this award. In 1978 he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council as a Labor member, where he served until his retirement in 1999. He was the first Greek-born MP and the first immigrant – non-Anglo-Saxon descent – who was elected Senator in the House of New South Wales Australia.Has actively participated in all actions for the Greek National Issues (Cyprus and Skopje) as well as on issues of particular Greek interest (Australian Greeks’ pension rights, establishment of Greek Schools in Australia, participation in Committees to support the restoration of the Parthenon etc ) and had always been one of the main organizers and speakers.The President of the Hellenic Republic, Constantine Stephanopoulos awarded him the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor in 1997, in recognition of his services to the Australian Diaspora and his significant contribution to the further strengthening of friendly ties and mutual understanding between Greece and Australia. The Gold Cross of the Order of Honor is the second in hierarchy honorary distinction of the Greek State. The first distinction is the Savior, granted only to Heads of State and Orthodox Patriarchs.In the year 2003, Takis Kaldis wrote and published an autobiographical book titled: “WHEN THE SEA ENDS”. Reading this book one can understand his personal friendships, close partnerships and contacts with international personalities of politicians of all wings, artists, journalists and others. He was keen to make every effort for Hellenism.A list of people he connected closely with include: Ilias Iliou, Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, Konstantinos Karamanlis, Andreas Papandreou, Kostis Stefanopoulos, Kostas Simitis, Leonidas Kirkos, Theodoros Pagkalos, Apostolos Kaklamanis, Evangelos Venizelos, Yiannis Haralambopoulos, Mikis Theodorakis, Manolis Glezos, Takis Lambrias, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Georgios Papandreou, Stelios Papathemelis, Lefteris Papadopoulos, Eleni Vlahou, Georgios Mavros, Aristotelis Pavlidis, Zisis Zografos, Kostas Tsolakis, Glafkos Klerides, Nikos Kranidiotis, Izekiel Papaioannou, Gough Whitlam, Rupert Murdoch, Malcolm Fraser, Paul Sarmanis, Michael Doukakis… A paragraph in his book is worth to be mentioned.Τώρα που τελειώνει η θάλασσα, βρίσκομαι πάνω στα βράχια και σκέφτομαι. Πάω πίσω 50 χρόνια. Και ρωτώ τον εαυτό μου: Τι δεν θα έκανα στον πάνω από μισό αιώνα που βίσκομαι σε τούτη τη χώρα. Ξέρω ότι θα υπάρξουν πολλοί που περίμεναν εξομολόγηση. Ότι ίσως δεν ακολούθησα την άσφαλτο που οδηγεί σίγουρα σε αίσιο τέλος. Εγώ όμως θα πω ότι δεν είναι τίποτα που δεν θα έκανα από αυτά που έκανα. Δεν μετάνιωσα για τίποτα. Ό, τι έκανα το’ κανα γιατί το πίστεψα».Now that the sea is ending, I am sitting on the rocks, thinking. I am going back 50 years. And I ask myself. What would I not do in this half century living in this country? I know there are lots of people expecting a confession. That I did not choose the path that leads to a good end. But I can confirm that there is nothing that I would not do. I have no regrets. Whatever I did, I did because I believed in it. James (Takis) Kaldis died in Sydney in 2007.