World War II 75th anniversary: Do you know the identity of Sydney's dancing man?

DANCING MAN: This now-famous still from a newsreel features an anonymous man dancing on the street in Sydney, Australia, after the end of WWII. It was featured on a 2005 commemorative $1 coin.
DANCING MAN: This now-famous still from a newsreel features an anonymous man dancing on the street in Sydney, Australia, after the end of WWII. It was featured on a 2005 commemorative $1 coin.

A man, dressed in trousers, jacket and hat, dances down a Sydney street; he pirouettes, waves his hat and smiles at the camera that is following behind him.

He moves elegantly, controlled but with a distinct sense of joy and, perhaps, relief.

Torn up paper is strewn everywhere, another man waves a newspaper that declares 'peace!' while women and men dance, cheer and sing.

It is August 15, 1945 and World War II is over, effectively.

The footage, dubbed Dancing Man, was part of a Movietone newsreel titled Peace: Australia Celebrates which filmed the revelry on the streets of Sydney during Victory in the Pacific Day.

It was narrated by radio personality of the time, Jack Davey and has been played countless times since its initial recording.

Movietone Newsreel: Peace: Australia Celebrates

It is believed the newsreel was filmed by several cameramen at different locations, however the 12 seconds capturing a that jubilant man dancing down the street is believed to have been filmed by prominent cameraman of that time, Jim Pearson.

What isn't clear however, is the identity of that dancing man.

Reports in various media outlets have indicated that the debate around the man's identity gained traction in the mid 90s when close to a dozen men claimed to be Australia's infamous dancer.

Most have since been eliminated but the mystery remains with two men steadfast in their claim.

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Frank McAlary, a retired barrister and Ern Hill a former electrical fitter both believed themselves to be Dancing Man.

The issue became contentious when a still of the dancing man was featured on the 2005 commemorative $1 coin marking the 60th anniversary since the end of WWII. It used the likeness of Ern Hill for the depiction which drew criticism from McAlary's family.

McAlary's claim was backed by publicly in media reports in 2004 by then QC, Chester Porter, who said that he and a former Compensation Court judge, Barry Egan, had seen Mr McAlary being filmed dancing.

Hill also stuck by his claim. He told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2004 that he had worked in 'town as an electrical fitter'.

''It was about mid-morning when the boss came down and said, 'It's all over.' They shut up shop."

After changing clothes he had dashed into the city, spotting a camera crew on a truck.

"The camera came along and I did a bit of a jump around."

It may be a mystery that is never solved and perhaps the real question is, does it need to be?

That man could have been anyone. Thousands of people left their work stations that day and descended onto the streets in celebration.

The Dancing Man represents the joy, elation and relief felt by all on that day. Perhaps it's better if the mystery remains?

Do you know more on the identity of the Dancing Man? Email anna.wolf@austcommunitymedia.com.au