|Who is it?||Actor, Writer|
|Birth Day||November 17, 1954|
|Birth Place||Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia|
|Age||66 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||9 October 2013(2013-10-09) (aged 58)\nParkville, Victoria, Australia|
|Cause of death||Liver cancer|
|Other names||Chopper Read|
|Spouse(s)||Mary-Ann Hodge (m. 1995; div. 2001) Margaret Cassar (m. 2003–2013)|
|Children||Charlie Roy Brandon|
|Conviction(s)||Armed robbery Assault Kidnapping|
Read was born on 17 November 1954 to a former army and Korean War veteran father and a mother who was a devout Seventh-day Adventist. He was placed in a children's home for the first five years of his life. He grew up in the Melbourne suburbs of Collingwood, Thomastown, Fitzroy and Preston. He was bullied at school, claiming that by the age of 15 he had been on the "losing end of several hundred fights" and that his father, usually on his mother's recommendation, beat him often as a child. It was also revealed that Read had been molested as a child. Read was made a ward of the state by the age of 14 and was placed in several mental institutions as a teenager, where, he later claimed, he underwent electroshock therapy.
Read spent only 13 months outside prison between the ages of 20 and 38, having been convicted of crimes including armed robbery, firearm offences, assault, arson, impersonating a police officer and kidnapping. While in Pentridge Prison's H division in the late 1970s, Read launched a prison war. His gang, dubbed "The Overcoat Gang" because they wore long coats all year round to conceal their weapons, were involved in several hundred acts of violence against a larger opposing gang during this period. Around this time, Read had a fellow inmate cut both of his (Read's) ears off in order to be able to leave H division temporarily. In his biography, Read claimed this was to avoid an ambush by other inmates by being transferred to the mental health wing. His later works state that he did so to "win a bet". The nickname "Chopper" was given to him long before this, from a childhood cartoon character.
In the TV series Tough Nuts, Read also spoke of his mid-1980s to early 1990s rivalry with Alphonse Gangitano. Read explained that he had a disagreement with Gangitano regarding an elderly neighbourhood hero whom Gangitano admired. It is alleged by Read that Gangitano burst open the toilet cubicle door with a number of associates and began a serious assault on Read who made his escape but not before spreading his faeces into Gangitano's face.
Read was ambushed and stabbed by members of his own gang in a sneak attack when they felt that his plan to cripple every other inmate in the entire division and win the gang war in one fell swoop was going too far. Another theory is that James "Jimmy" Loughnan, a longtime friend of Read, with Patrick "Blue" Barnes, wished to benefit from a contract put on Read's head by the Painters' and Dockers' Union. Read lost several feet of intestine in the attack. At the time Read was serving a 16 and a half-year sentence after attacking a judge in an effort to get Loughnan released from prison. Loughnan later died in the Jika Jika fire at Pentridge in 1987.
Read's first book, Chopper: From the Inside, was collected from letters he sent while incarcerated in Melbourne's Pentridge Prison and published in 1991. It contains tales and anecdotes of his Criminal and prison exploits. Further biographical releases followed in a similar vein. With the advent of Chopper 5: Pulp Faction, Read began writing fictional tales based on his experiences of Criminal life. Attempts were made to ban a children's book written by Read titled Hooky the Cripple.
Jim G. Thirlwell, in his 1995 Foetus release, Gash, wrote and performed a song titled "Steal Your Life Away" which included a somewhat Read-like persona and several quotes from Read's first book, including "I'm a garbage disposal expert", "You've got to stand at the edge of the grave for the rest of your life", "Me and my mental health don't agree most times" and "Why ask why?".
Read was featured twice in the Australian true-crime series Underbelly. He first appeared in the fifth episode of the show's second series, Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, where was played by Renato Fabretti. Read later appeared as the lead character in the show's seventh season, Underbelly Files: Chopper. The two-part miniseries focused on Read's attempts at going straight after his stint in Pentridge Prison, as well as the beginning of his writing career and his feud with Syd Collins and underworld figure Alphonse Gangitano. The cast featured Aaron Jeffery as Read, Vince Colosimo (who also appeared in the 2000 film about Read) as Alphonse Gangitano, Michael Caton as Read's father Keith, Todd Lasance as Syd Collins, Zoe Ventoura as Read's first wife Mary-Ann Hodge, and Ella Scott Lynch as Read's life long friend and eventual second-wife Margaret Cassar.
In 2001, Read was featured in an advertisement on behalf of the Pedestrian Council of Australia warning of the dangers of drunk driving.
Read married Australian Taxation Office employee Mary-Ann Hodge in 1995 while imprisoned in Risdon Prison in Tasmania for the shooting of Sidney Collins. The couple had one son, Charlie. They divorced in 2001. On 19 January 2003, he married long-time friend Margaret Cassar. They had one son, Roy Brandon.
In 2005, Read embarked on a tour of Australia performing a series of shows titled I'm Innocent with Mark "Jacko" Jackson and later toured Sydney in a stage show with a new co-star, former detective Roger "The Dodger" Rogerson and throughout Australia with Comedian and friend Doug Chappel. Read even made regular guest appearance on Doug Chappel's Melbourne International Comedy Festival show in 2008 called 'Comics Live in your Lounge' where the two of them would tell stories on stage together.
Read contracted hepatitis C during his time in prison, possibly contracted by using shared razor blades. In March 2008 he revealed he only had two to five years to live and required a liver transplant. However, he refused to agree to the procedure, stating that while a transplant would save him, he did not want one when an organ could be provided to someone else.
In April 2012, Read was diagnosed with liver cancer. He underwent surgery in July 2012 to remove tumours from his liver and in late September 2013 he was admitted to Melbourne Private Hospital in failing health.
Read died of the illness on 9 October 2013, aged 58, in Parkville, Victoria.