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`Cookie’ in hot seat at celebrity roast (1996)

December 4, 2012

90's Flashback

Pictured (from top left): Performings on stage to `roast’ Syd Heylen, and guests included Bernie Stahl, Ken godfrey, Terry Gordon, Patti and son Syd Jnr, and Syd Heylen Snr with friends at Dracula’s, Gold Coast, 1996.

Syd Heylen at his `Roast’ in 1996

Industry salutes Syd Heylen

Variety Today 1996

By Shirley Broun

WHEN the devil (alias Slim De Grey) arrived to host Syd Heylen’s Celebrity Roast at Dracula’s on the Queensland Gold Coast recently, guests knew they were in for a `hot’ time. But not near as warm as the man in the `hot seat’, the much loved A Country Practice favourite, Syd `Cookie’ Heylen.

Written and co-compered by Syd’s dear friend Slim De Grey, who turned out to be a devil in disguise, the special night brought together hundreds of his peers such as Lee Conway, Tony Bonner, Terry Gordon, Bernie Stahl, John Newman and Digger Revell, and family including wife Patti and son Syd Heylen Jnr.

The likes of Jan Adele, who sang the opener `There’s No Business Like Roast Business’, Johnny Garfield, Danny McMaster, Bill Newman, Lucky Grilles, Barney Coombes and many more took to the stage to `roast’ one of Australian television’s most endearing characters … and didn’t they enjoy themselves?

There were comedy skits, songs written just for the night, and even an old `girlfriend’ (who looked very much like Jan Adele) stormed into the proceedings to protest Syd `dumping’ her for Patti `all those years ago’. Dracula’s staff added to the atmosphere on the night, being the best dressed ghouls in town.

Syd, who has the honour of being Australia’s first `living treasure’, thanks to a recent award from the Variety Club, was elated by the innovative `roast’, and didn’t waste any time at the end of the performance to get his own back on those enthusiastic peers who dared give him such a roast. A huge queue card (to help Syd’s failing eye sight out) ensured the audience were up with his every comment.

Beaming from ear to ear, clutching his `Cookie’ cap and surrounded by many of the friends who shared his happy memories, Syd thanked everyone and took a bow. the man who has been a part of the growth of Australia’s entertainment industry from early vaudeville to the lights, camera and action on a popular television series, was once again in the spotlight – and he received a standing ovation!

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