Picture: Associated Press/Paramount

Three-time Australian Film Institute award winner David Ngoombujarra has died.

Ngoombujarra, 44, was found in a park in Fremantle on Sunday and taken to Fremantle Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police are awaiting a toxicology report to determine the cause of death.

Born David Bernard Starr in Meekatharra in 1967 and raised in Coolbellup after being removed from his family under Commonwealth government policy, Ngoombujarra went on to become one of Australia's best-known indigenous actors in a career spanning more than two decades.

He won three Australian Film Institute awards - for Blackfellas, Black and White and The Circuit.

Yirra Yaakin artistic director Kyle Morrison, Ngoombujarra's nephew, was in shock last night.

"I first worked with him as an 11-year-old when he was doing (the ABC series) Heartland with Cate Blanchett and Ernie Dingo back in the 1990s," he said.

"He had so much talent and so much charisma and inspiration.

"One of the things that people always remarked about Uncle David was his infectious smile.

"He will always be remembered for that big, beautiful smile."

Morrison said his uncle's death was sudden and unexpected.

Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Wesley Enoch, who worked with Ngoombujarra and his close friend, actor Kelton Pell, on Yirra Yaakin's Waltzing the Wilarra, also mourned the loss.

He said Ngoombujarra had been charismatic, both as an individual and actor - a "rare and remarkable" breed of Australian actor.

"He was very generous with his time, especially with younger performers, and would often give them guidance and support," Enoch said.

Inspired by black actors such as Sidney Poitier and David Gulpilil, Ngoombujarra began his entertainment career in the early 1980s busking in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

He was spotted by a producer in 1987 while performing at Circular Quay and given bit parts in Breaking Loose and Young Einstein.

Ngoombujarra's breakthrough role came in 1993 with his performance as Pretty Boy Floyd in the WA feature film Blackfellas, James Ricketson's adaptation of Archie Weller's tough urban drama The Day of the Dog.

Ngoombujarra had the support role, but ran away with the movie.

"It was an amazing debut from Ngoombujarra," said _The West Australian _film editor Mark Naglazas.

"He was a natural-born screen actor, oozing charisma and charm. He had such a deep, resonant voice and a mega-watt smile that blew away anyone trying to act in the same frame."

The West Australian

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