Where are they now? Aussie stars of 1994

Through much of the 1990s, except for four years in Thailand, I worked for TV Week, which was then Australia’s biggest selling entertainment magazine (more than 500,000 copies a week). We also ran the TV Week Logie Awards (“the Logies”), which were, and still are, screened on Channel 9.

The Logies—named after the Scottish inventor of the TV set, John Logie Baird—were a big deal in those days, akin to the Emmys in the US. The televised live event was always one of the highest-rating shows of the year.

Of course, it is an invitation-only event, and in those days, we TV Week reporters received our own invitation and entered via the red carpet like anyone else. (Unlike the stars, however, we had to return to the office about midnight and write our stories. Later though, we were able to return to the all-night parties, and we got a hotel room each thrown in).


When I moved house recently, I found my invitation to the 1994 Logies, pictured above. It’s poster sized, came in a tube (which I still store it in) and featured illustrations of some of the top stars of the day.

It’s interesting, 20 years on, to see their younger selves and to reflect on the industry. Some of them are, sadly, no longer with us, including the irreplaceable actor Ruth Cracknell (left, next to my name), who I had the pleasure of interviewing about that time and who won the peer-voted award that year for Most Outstanding Actress. She died in 2002, aged 76.

The other who has gone is Graeme “Shirley” Strachan (bottom, third from right), lead singer of the 1970s group Skyhooks, who had become a lifestyle-show host. He was killed in 2001 at the aged of 49 when the helicopter he was flying crashed on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

There are many in this poster whose careers kicked on and who are still involved in the media or entertainment industries, I’m pleased to say: Garry McDonald, (Most Outstanding Actor), John Farnham, Georgie Parker, Wendy Harmer, Andrew Denton, Ian “Molly” Meldrum, Gary Sweet and Sonia Todd (Most Popular Actor and Actress, respectively, for Police Rescue), Red Symons, Melissa George (Most Popular New Talent), Libbi Gorr (as Elle McFeast), Ernie Dingo, Rob Sitch, Natalie Imbruglia. Cricketer Shane Warne, then aged 25, is there in his hey-day, too.

Ray Martin (centre right) not only hosted the show, he won statuettes for Most Popular Light Entertainment Personality and the big one, the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television. He won many Logies, but he once told me every single one of them was precious to him and he loved winning them.

At centre left is Daryl Somers, host of the long-running show Hey Hey It’s Saturday, which ran for 27 years before being cancelled in 1999. Somers and the show made a short-lived comeback in 2010.

There are others there who we thought were big stars at the time but who perform only occasionally now or who have gone on to other things: Kimberley Davies, Dieter Brummer, Bruce Samazan, Scott Michaelson.

There are a few glaring omissions: It’s extraordinary that Bert Newton isn’t pictured. One of the best known Australian entertainers, then as now, he had hosted the show 18 times, including the year before.

The other omission is the great actor Bud Tingwall (1923-2009), who was inducted into the TV Week Logies Hall of Fame that year.

You’ve won!

Everyone loves to win something, so I’m excited today to be able to announce that I’ve been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by my blogosphere friend Fransi at 365 And Counting. I always enjoy reading this blog with its positive outlook and wide ranging topics such as media and the quirks of everyday life. So thanks so much, Fransi, for nominating me.

So, one of the requirements of winning the award is to tell you seven interesting things about myself that you might not know. This is hard, and I know that lots of my friends will say, “I knew that”! But maybe my newer WordPress friends will be surprised.

So, here goes:

1) When I was a child and lived in Los Angeles for two years, I did small roles in films and TV shows. I appeared in The Waltons and Bonanza, among others. I loved getting a day off from school every so often to work at Warner Brothers studios or to go out on location. I attended the Lois Auer Workshop on Saturdays for screen acting lessons, where one of my three classmates was Mary Beth McDonough, who played Erin in The Waltons.

In the 1970s, these were called "flyers" and, as you can see, were displayed to casting agents in ringbinders. There's a full-page photo on the other side.

In the 1970s, these were called “flyers” and, as you can see, were displayed to casting agents in ringbinders. There’s a full-page photo on the other side.

2) I briefly studied tap dancing when I was 11—I still have my shiny black tap shoes!

3) I see numbers, days, months and people’s names as distinct colours in my mind. I also see the days of the week and year as a kind-of signposted road, with physical distances between the days/months/years. I discovered only a few years ago that this is not normal, and is called synesthesia.

4) I studied speech and drama all through my school years and my early adult years, and have Associate of Trinity College London and Associate of New Zealand Speech Board letters in teaching. I wish I’d completed my licentiate teaching qualifications, and perhaps I will one day. Do kids today even learn speech and drama though?

5) I feel drawn to the sea, and coming from an island nation (New Zealand), I am happiest when I’m near the ocean. However, I’m a poor swimmer and have been terrified of—but strangely attracted to—sharks all my life (blame Jaws).

6) I would like to stay up until 1am or 2am every night—unfortunately, work commitments get in the way of this!

7) One of my favourite shows is Gardening Australia. I look forward to this show every Saturday at 6.30pm on the ABC. Why is this unexpected? Because I don’t garden. Not at all.

The other requirement of the award is that I in turn nominate some blogs I admire for the award. Officially, it’s 15, but as they say on the VBA site, “rules are made to be broken”. So, I’m nominating three:

Rejection Love Letters, or A Thousand Ways to Say ‘No’! John Tompkins is a writer trying to get his first book published. All writers know that sinking feeling when you receive a rejection letter from a publisher or agent, and John’s decided to document his rejections on the way to publication. Hilarious, novel (no pun intended) and bitter-sweet.

Consider the Sauce  Kenny Weir is my friend and former journalism colleague whose blog focusing on food in Melbourne’s west is always interesting, entertaining and well informed. He also occasionally visits restaurants outside his area, and comments on wider issues, including media and observations on life. What I like about this blog is its infinite variety, such as its coverage of food experiences that others rarely do—maybe a sausage sizzle at a school fair, or stories about charity food groups, or reviews of mobile van-type restaurants. His son, Bennie, often accompanies him on his travels and adds so much to the experience. Warning: don’t read this blog if you are hungry, because it always has pictures of lots of delicious-looking food.

Bryan Patterson’s Faithworks Bryan is another real-life friend and former journalism colleague who has a knack of writing intriguingly about so many issues that concern us. Bryan wrote a very popular newspaper column about life and faith for many years, and when he moved on, he decided to continue writing via a blog. Although ostensibly, Bryan focuses on religion, his blog is about lots of other stuff that affects us, too. He’s prolific, witty and wise.