Ding Dong still bell of the ball
with no signs of slowing down
By SHIRLEY BROUN
STUDIO 10 co-host Denise Drysdale lives with a secret fear that one day she won’t be able to get up on stage and do what she does best … entertain!
But, for those like me, who saw the endearing entertainer performing her stand-up comedy routine at Jupiter’s Theatre on the Gold Coast recently the consensus is in – this day is a long way off … if in fact it every arrives at all!
The 67-year-old dual Gold Logie Award winner and long-time star of Australian television was appearing in a brilliant show put together by leading artists Robert Pearson and George Harvey, formerly of The Four Kinsmen, which also featured the man who wore a Mean Pair of Jeans and is celebrating 50 years in showbiz, Marty Rhone.
When you call up Denise Drysdale’s profile on Wikipedia it lists her occupations as television personality, actress, dancer and comedian – a clear representation of just how diversified a performer she really is and the ease in which she effortlessly transcends generations providing something unique and entertaining for all age groups.
Not bad for someone who first appeared on early television sets as a ballet dancer on Melbourne-based GTV9’s Tarax Show. That is until, according to Denise, `her boobs grew too big and she was sacked’.
Such a revelation would have disappointed many aspiring performers, but not our Denise who bounced back better than ever and at 17 became the southern city’s first go-go dancer on television show Kommotion.
,Ding Dong becomes household name
Since then, Denise has gone onto build a huge and dedicated fan base for both her on-screen and live performances which included her role as barrel girl on The Ernie Sigley Show in 1974. It was here that Denise was first dubbed `Ding Dong’, a name that continues to resonate with the nation.
Denise recalls: “Ernie had a secretary Denise Bell and he called her Ding Dong. When I came along, he did the same. It was like a term of endearment and it has stuck all these years later.”
Ernie and Denise proved a huge hit with the Australian public both on television and with their many thousands of live shows and special appearances which continued until recently.
The talented pair also recorded a hit single, Hey Hey Paula.
Enter the Chook Dance
Then there was Denise’s famous Chook dance that the zany star has made one of her everlasting trademarks, which never ceases to raise a smile or, like the Jupiter’s Theatre performance … uncontrollable laughter by some audience members as she struts her stuff on stage.
“I first did the chook dance in 1969 while entertaining the troops in the Digger Revell Review. We toured all the American bases throughout Asia and the guys just loved it. It began after someone gave me a chook and I did a chook face … the rest is history,” she said.
Throughout her career, Denise says she was always on the move.
“For someone who is such a home body, I have spent so much time away,” she said.
However, the enduring performer did settle down long enough to have her two boys Peter, 36 and Rob, 34 with husband and actor Chris Milne. The marriage ended in 1990.
Denise has worked with many of Australia’s and the world’s top performers, entertainment icons and television hosts including local stars Graham Kennedy, Don Lane, Rosie Sturgess and Tony Sheldon.
“One of my favourite singer/dancer and actresses from a young age was Toni Lamond,” she said.
The versatile performer’s own resume reads like a who’s who of Australian TV programs with regular appearances on shows including Bellbird, Homicide, Division 4, Countdown, Young Talent Time, Celebrity Squares and The Norman Gunston Show.
Denise says she has great admiration for newcomers to the industry today too. “In our day you got away with going on stage and making a mistake, but not so today … performers have to be 100 per cent professional straight away. It is such a different world.”
I am just me on Studio 10
Denise says her day job on Studio 10 provides an opportunity for people to see the real Denise … “I am not a journalist or intellectual, I am just me.”
And, the dedicated performer says she has no plans to retire. “While I can perform, I will,” she said vehemently.
Despite the fact that singing has played an important role in her career so far, Denise has no plans to record in the near future. Her last album release was `A Wonderful World’ in 2008. It included the single Hey Paula.
More recently, Denise has moved up to the Queensland Gold Coast after 30 years in Victoria’s Gippsland area.
“I found the house was getting too big and required too much maintenance so I sold everything (except her two Gold Logies) and headed north to the Gold Coast,” she said.
Eco Essence Homes have since built a new eco-friendly home for Denise, which she loves.
“I went to the Gold Coast in search of warm weather, a pool to swim and exercise in and a place I could cook outside instead of inside. This is perfect.”
Denise has touched the lives of millions throughout her career which has spanned more than five decades …. Or six if you include the many dance competitions she won before the age of six.
Gold Logie a highlight
A highlight, she said, was receiving the Gold Logie for Most Popular Female Personality on Australian TV from legendary actor John Wayne in 1975.
“I didn’t have a penny when I came back from England, and rode the tram to work. A year later I was standing on stage with a Gold Logie (and John Wayne).”
Is there anything the talented entertainer – who says she was always the `Yes’ girl who tried everything – still keen to experience?
“I would love to do a sitcom, it’s the one thing I regret not doing in my career,” she admitted.
Denise says she has always worked by the motto: `No job too big, no job too small, I’ll do anything at all’ and that, I am sure, is why she has become one of the most loved and admired personalities in the country. Take a bow Denise!Tweet