Gee! Blaskett to celebrate his 90th
THOSE of us who grew up watching ventriloquist Ron Blaskett might find it hard to believe he turns 90 next Friday. The TV pioneer will celebrate with wife Merle, 87, and the family at a Chinese restaurant. But someone who won't be spinning the lazy Susan is mischievous doll Gerry Gee. "He's in a suitcase," Blaskett said. Apart from entertaining families on The Tarax Show on GTV-9 from 1957, Blaskett has another claim to fame. "I'm the only survivor of the test transmission at Nine." And you may not know that his doll was made for the station and called Gerry Gee of GTV. Gerry was made by famous doll maker Frank Marshall, the Chicago craftsman who made the Charlie McCarthy doll for ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, the father of actor Candice Bergen. It was true love for Ron and Merle because she was also a ventriloquist, with a doll called Sandra Simpkins. Far from rocking on a rocking chair, Blaskett is entertaining folks over 50 after discovering a renewed interest in nostalgia. He does the rounds of retirement homes and Rotary and Probus clubs doing ventriloquism and showing footage of Graham Kennedy and The Tarax Show. "I never dreamt at my age I would still be doing shows." At 90, most of his TV pals have passed on but he's still friends with Philip Brady. "I used to give him a lift to work. He's earnest and a man you can trust." Brady has a sidekick at 3AW, Bruce Mansfield, and despite popular perception, neither is a ventriloquist.
The music will go on for Titanic
FRANCESCO Schettino, the Costa Concordia captain who accidentally fell into a lifeboat, doesn't need reminding that the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is on April 15. St Mark's Anglican Church in Fitzroy is getting into the spirit with its In Memoriam TITANIC 100 concert and vicar Father Stuart Soley will rejoice in the choir singing Out of the Depths, a "haunting" rendition of Psalm 130 by British composer Walford Davies. Audience participation is encouraged and life jackets are optional for special effects. Parishioners may be interested in what was on the menu for the ship's first-class passengers: a Scottish dish with fowl and leeks called cockie leekie soup.
iHinch writes iMusical
THE Human Headline must have a mountain of scrapbooks with all his headlines because here's another: the 3AW host, former jailbird, author, liver transplantee and former home detainee has written a musical for the iGeneration called iFantasia. It's a "love story of old, transformed into the new world of iPhones and iPads" and will premiere at the Palms at Crown in January, much to the delight of his friend and PR doyenne Ann Peacock. Hinch also wrote the lyrics to music by Peter Sullivan who, with Mike Brady, gave footy fans Up There Cazaly, and has enlisted the experienced hand of producer Dennis Smith. But that's not all for 2013. Hinch is writing his 14th book, with the working title How Do You Plead?, a telemovie and a film. I was exhausted hearing about it but mustered the energy to ask Hinch how many Duracell batteries power him. "They're Eveready," he said. After inserting another one, he cited a line from grandma: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." More of us should try being Human Headlines to get things done.
Rush to find owner of IDs
THERE'S no need for super sleuths like Columbo with Facebook to the rescue. When British comedian Gordon Southern found a credit card and myki card belonging to Angelica Rush and put an alert on Facebook, a Kiwi friend in London, comedian Andre King, who used to be a private investigator, surmised they belonged to Geoffrey Rush's daughter. Then a friend of Southern's who knows Angelica's mother, Jane Menelaus, got in touch. This friend is making a TV show about history and, fancy that, Southern's comedy festival show is called A Brief History of History! This is a brief history of how Mark Zuckerberg changed the world.