The Cullen family originated from Cornwall and came to South Australia in the 1850s. Hedley was born at his parents’ home,’Windermere’, Dudley Street, Semaphore SA on 20 July 1915. His father Herbert Henry Cullen worked for the SA Railways and Hedley’s mother’s name was Gladys, her maiden name unknown. Hedley was given his uncle’s name, Lieutenant Hedley E. Cullen who died in August 1915 on board the Hospital Ship Dongola from wounds received at Lone Pine, Gallipoli.
Hedley passed his intermediate certificate, and worked as a photographer selling his photographs to newspapers and established Metro Studio in Edments Building in Rundle Street. In 1936 he won a certificate of Merit for portrait or figure study at the 1936 Centennial Exhibition and also that year was appointed the manager of the ‘The Marchant Studios’ Tanunda Branch. He also was a stage performer and these interests continued throughout his life.
In June 1940 he married Nancy Nell neé Graham and enlisted on 23 December 1941; his medical records reveal he was short sighted. He enlisted into the CMF on 19 June 1942 and was discharged in January 1946. In December 1941 his address was 17 King St Glandore, and by June 1942 they had moved to 44 Wright St, Croydon.
Hedley served in the 25/33 Garrison Battalion at Loveday. While at the Internment Camp he was a censor and took many photos of the Camp. In October 1943 he, along with other soldiers from the camp, performed for Merrymakers Revue Company at Renmark Institute, with proceeds going to the Renmark Cheer up Hut. In October 1945 he performed in the “Goody Two Shoes” pantomime at the Rivoli Theatre, Berri. Proceeds went to the Children’s Hospital, School Patriotic Fund (SPF), and School Committee Fund. By the time of his discharge he had risen to the rank of Lance Sergeant.
He is best remembered being “Deadly Earnest” who introduced horror movies on SAS 10 from 1967 to 1975. He starred in Aweful Movies with Deadly Earnest (1967), A Thousand Skies (1985) and Deadly Earnest's Nightmare Theatre (1978). He died on 4 November 1994 in Dernancourt, a North East suburb of Adelaide and his widow died in 2003.
Information courtesy Peter Lane
Internet Movie Database: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0191475/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm (accessed 6 March 2021)
World War II Nominal Roll: https://nominal-rolls.dva.gov.au/veteran?id=712768&c=WW2#R (accessed 6 March 2021)