The American-Chinese actress Anna May Wong performed at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne in 1939. Currently I’m doing research on the actress and her time in Australia. Few movie stars can surpass Anna May’s beauty and style.
‘Knowing how much the Chinese believe in lucky charms, I looked around the dressing room for some sign of this but as I could see no indication my curiosity prompted me to ask. Anna May picked up a quaint tiny shoe that had been fashioned into a pincushion, and told me it was her mascot, for it had actually enclosed one of her feet when she was a baby. When I pointed out that it resembled a boy’s shoe, she related the fact that, until the age of 10, she was brought up as a boy. It seems the first child in the family was a girl and then Anna May arrived. Her father was so annoyed because he had no heir to his name that he ordered Anna to be considered as such for nearly 10 years. It was her sister who kept Anna’s first shoes, and today she keeps the other one of the pair as a luck-bringer.’ Jonathan Swift, Sun, 13 June 1939.
While a little ‘beaten up’, this autograph album contains the signatures of some pioneers of Melbourne television: Abdul (World Championship Wrestling); “Happy” Hammond; Jeffery Lenner; Buster Fiddes; Danny Webb; Michael Williamson; Old Dad (Roy Lyons); John Darcy; Jocelyn Terry; Vikki Hammond; Vic Gordon; Sydney Heylen; Honest John (Gilbert); Jennie Ham; Joy Fountain; Philip Brady; Bob Moors; Kevin Colson; Patti McGrath; Susan Gaye Anderson; Randy Ross; Joff Ellen; Ron (Blaskett) & Gerry Gee; Prof. Ratbaggy (Ernie Carroll); and Sloppo the Clown.
Portrait of me (above) looking like Larry Fine (left), the middle, and my favourite, Stooge. Recently I read a review of the popular TV series House, which claimed that this show could never have been made had it not been for The Sopranos. This got me thinking. The Sopranos could never have been made had it not been for The Three Stooges, in my view. The same could also be said for several other classic TV shows, such as Seinfeld and The Simpsons. What brilliant, and sadly underrated, performers Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp were. They were true surrealists.
In 1959, seven members of Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club — Jimmie Dodd, Doreen Tracey, Bobby Burgess, Sharon Baird, Tommy Cole, Karen Pendleton, and Cubby O’Brien — toured Australia along with the pop group, The Diamonds. Many people were very surprised that ‘dorky’ Doreen, as seen on the early episodes of the TV programme, had developed into such a ‘bomb shell’ (pictured). ‘I had a mad, torrid affair going at the time with Dave Summerville, the lead singer of The Diamonds, and I used to get drunk in the lounge with Dave and that got into the [Australian] papers and was bad,’ Doreen later told Jerry Bowles, author of Forever Hold Your Banner High (1976). The death of innocence!
Television was introduced in Australia in 1956 and remained a ‘novelty’ for about 10 years. Even Australian crime fiction fell under its spell. In The Cold Dark Hours (1958) by A.G. Yates (a.k.a. Carter Brown), an advertising agency executive devises an ad campaign to sell defective TV sets; in the series of pulp novels by W.H. Williams featuring Marc Brody, he starts out as a newspaper crime reporter and ends up as ‘TV’s on-the-spot crime reporter’; in Who Dies for Me? (1962) by S.H. Courtier, people are secretly monitored by means of tiny TV cameras placed inside light globes; and in Make-up for Murder (1966) by June Wright, a popular TV show host is threatened with murder. Does anyone know of others featuring TV?
This photograph of Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner in a buggy and Joff Ellen on a horse was taken by C.P. Goodall of Ballarat in the late 1950s or very early 1960s. On the back of the photograph Mr Goodall wrote: ‘Graham and Panda head off on their drive at a smart trot. Graham tries to make it not too smart.’
Does anyone know what happened to Ian Williams? I’d love to track him down. This is another offering from Faye Marsden’s autograph book.
A sock puppet is a puppet made from a sock (or similar garment) which is placed over the hand of a puppeteer. When a sock puppeteer fits their hand into the closed end of the sock, the sock puppet can be made to ‘talk’ with the opening and closing of the hand. The puppet’s mouth is formed by the region between the heel and the toe, with the thumb forming a jaw. At a minimum the shape of the hand will instantly form the shape of a mouth, but sometimes the mouth is padded by putting in a fairly hard piece of felt (often with a tongue glued inside). Sometimes the region between the toe and heel is cut open with scissors to form a mouth. The sock is stretched out fully so that it is long enough to cover the puppeteer’s wrist. Often, but not always, the puppeteer will hide behind a stand and raise up his or her hand above the stand so that only the puppet is visible. Many sock puppeteers, however, stand in full view along with their puppets and will hold conversations with their own sock puppets, using ventriloquism. (Wikipedia)