Sir Robert Murray Helpmann, CBE (né Helpman, 9 April 1909 – 28 September 1986) was an Australian ballet dancer, actor, director and choreographer.
After early work in Australia he moved to Britain in 1932, where he joined the Vic-Wells Ballet under its creator, Ninette de Valois.
He became one of the company's leading men, partnering Alicia Markova and later Margot Fonteyn.
When Frederick Ashton, the company's chief choreographer, was called up for military service in the Second World War Helpmann took over from him while continuing as a principal dancer.
From the outset of his career Helpmann was an actor as well as a dancer, and in the 1940s he turned increasingly to acting in plays, at the Old Vic and in the West End.
Most of his roles were in Shakespeare plays but he also appeared in works by Shaw, Coward, Sartre and others.
As a director his range was wide, from Shakespeare to opera, musicals and pantomime.
In 1965 Helpmann became co-director of the Australian Ballet, for whom he created several new ballets.
He became sole director in 1975 but disagreements with the company's board let to his dismissal a year later.
He directed for Australian Opera and acted in stage plays into the 1980s.
Although primarily a stage artist, he appeared in fifteen films between 1942 (One of Our Aircraft is Missing) and 1984 (Second Time Lucky), including The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Helpmann died in Sydney and was given a state funeral in St Andrew's Cathedral.
The Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, gave a tribute in the Parliament of Australia, and a motion of condolence was passed – a rare tribute for a non-politician.
Helpmann is commemorated in the Helpmann Awards for Australian performing arts, established in his honour in 2001.