Latest News

Actor Samuel Johnson Pays Tribute To His ‘Other’ Sister, Hilde Hinton

“Without her I wouldn’t have a life to speak of”

Women supporting women is part of the DNA of marie claire, but this month we asked men to celebrate the game-changing women in their lives. Here, Samuel Johnson honours his eldest sister, Hilde Hinton, an author and prison officer, who waited in the wings while Samuel and middle sister Connie raised millions of dollars to fight cancer.

“I was three when my mum died by suicide. My sister Connie was four, and our big sister Hilde was 12. From then on, Connie and I modelled ourselves on Hilde, who was our mum, our big sister and our best friend. She was our everything girl – she taught us how to be bold and adventurous, how to jump off cliffs, to try to fly. She was uninhibited and free. We came from heavy dysfunction. Our family was screwy; it didn’t go right. Shit went wrong all the time and it was a very uncertain upbringing. Hilde provided a critical ballast for me and Connie. And we both came through, thanks to Hilde. We both ended up manufacturing wonderful lives for ourselves and each other. I suppose I feel like Hilde’s not just the sister and the mum, but the conductor of the symphony, or maybe its most passionate violinist.

“When Connie was sick with cancer and we started our charity Love My Sister, Connie got quite a bit of shine. And I’ve had my shine through showbiz, but Hilde’s the shining light behind the scenes. I lost her for about seven years; we were all-consumed by the steam engine that was Love your Sister, and Hilde was very patient and understanding. One of the things to emerge from the shadows of Connie’s passing [in 2017] was a resplendent relationship with Hilde. It’s time for me to be as good a brother to Hilde as I tried to be to Connie.

“Women have shaped everything about who I am today and I’ve been lucky enough to have dynamic women in my life. If I didn’t have those women, I wouldn’t have a life to speak of. I’ve been urged by two sisters to become a better man, a better human. I’d certainly say I was on the wrong track when it came to making any sort of valuable contribution [to] my own family and community – I was so hot and bothered by just about everything that I forgot about the importance of [that]. Through both my sisters I was able to find it again in rather spectacular fashion. I’d just be another empty showbiz shell without them, I wouldn’t have a substantial life that I’m really proud of. I certainly feel like the answers lay well away from showbiz. If I didn’t have my two sisters, and Hilde especially in terms of mental shit, I’d have probably fallen victim to showbiz like so many have. God knows, you don’t want to end up dead or as some kind of shadow of yourself. And they’re two common outcomes when it comes to showbiz. So I don’t just thank my lucky stars for my sisters, I attribute the quality of my life to them.

“Hilde has always been the interesting one in our family. Whenever I introduce a friend to her I tell them that I’m actually the boring one. They always laugh and say ‘No you’re not’; then once they meet Hilde they came back to me and say, ‘You’re totally right’, and I lose that friendship to Hilde! She’s very effervescent and ebullient; she’s sparkly and bubbly. She’s outgoing and not shy with her heart nor shy with her ideas. She’s a pioneer when it comes to the human condition and how to treat it. She’s got a razor-sharp wit, a deep intelligence, a keenness for fun, and an absolute true-north desire to do anything to make the family unity stronger. She’s a fierce family girl. She’s our bold pioneer who taught us to go to all the places that scare you. She’s our fearless leader. But underneath it all she’s just a loving human and a terrific mum. And an outstanding sister. She was Connie’s hero, she’s my hero and to us, she was always the sister in Love Your Sister.”

Samuel Johnson’s new book, Dear Mum (Hachette, $22.99), a collection of letters to mothers from notable Australians, is out on March 31.

If you or anyone you know needs help or advice, please call Lifeline (131 114) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). If you need help immediately, please call 000.

Related stories