Intimate rendezvous with two top Aussie stars

August 26, 2018

Entertainers, Latest news

Anthony & Gallaher take

audience into their hearts

at rare guest appearance

for ALVA Goes Gold Coast


GUESTS attending this week’s ALVA Goes Gold Coast lunch at the South Tweed Sports Club were transported into an intimate tell-all experience with two of Australia’s most loved and successful stars in Julie Anthony and Simon Gallaher.

An exquisite lunch was enjoyed amid a frenzy of chatter and snapping of photographs as an estimated 70 ALVA Women in Entertainment members, friends, other performers and guests prepared for the highly acclaimed special guests who are both Gold Coast locals.

ALVA Women in Entertainment (Australian Ladies Variety Association) President Susie Smither  played an important role as interviewer and host of the much-awaited `intimate chat with Julie and Simon’.

And that was exactly what the audience was treated to … with everyone feeling more like a guest in the stars’ lounge rooms with the only thing missing – a log fire and roasted marshmallows.

Julie, 69 and Simon, 59 admitted they are blissfully happy in retirement but they were both extremely thankful and proud of their individual journeys to get to this point.

Simon, still boasting that big, warm-welcome smile that has melted millions of hearts since the 1970s when he first electrified our television screens with his extraordinary vocal and piano-playing talents on shows such as the Mike Walsh Show, opened by saying: “I just want to address all the latest gossip and let you know that yes, I am Lucky Grilles and Jan Adele’s love child.”

His comments were met with a roar of laughter which relaxed the appreciative crowd who sat back and settled in for an unforgettable afternoon sharing memories, special moments, highlights and so much more with two of the country’s much accomplished and loved stars.

Early musical memories

Julie took everyone back to her earliest musical memories in the Mallee district of Galga, South Australia, when she would sing around the piano with her family.

“I always sang the harmony even without anyone singing the melody,” she laughed.

Julie said her Dad was responsible for her first `big’ step into entertaining a crowd.

“Dad volunteered me to sing at a special event in town when the person who was booked couldn’t make it. I didn’t know any song all the way through but managed to sing `Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone’ (He’ll Have to Go by Jim Reeves) followed by the Hawaiian Wedding Song,” she said.

Julie went on to audition and successfully appear in a talent quest on the Ron Parry Show in South Australia which she won.

“I won $600 and a trip to Wrest Point Casino to sing,” said Julie.

Importantly, her appearance in the quest was seen by top Australian TV and radio presenter and singer Ernie Sigley who invited her onto his show and forwarded a taped copy of the performance to Graham Kennedy.

The rest, as they say, is Australian showbiz history.

Mike Walsh Song Contest

Simon credits his career breakthrough to his success on the Mike Walsh show song contest.

“I was studying at the Conservatorium in Brisbane. I wrote the song, recorded it and sat on it for a while before entering it. But, I got into the final six and can remember being at home and having a sandwich with my nana when the results were announced,” he said.

“I didn’t win but they said they were so impressed with my entry that they offered me a three year recording contract with Polygram and regular appearances on Mike’s show.”
This early success saw Simon touring as support for Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds who took him under her wing offering continued mentoring.

“She would stand in the wings and watch me while we were on tour,” said Simon.

It was during this tour that Julie Anthony first saw Simon performing and she has not stopped singing his praises ever since.

Careers `fire up'

Julie and Simon’s careers flourished in the ensuing years with Julie starring in both the West End and Australian productions of `Irene’, taking on lead vocalist of The Seekers and recording one of the country’s all-time favourite versions of the National Anthem `Advance Australia Fair”, among her many achievements.

She was also synonymous with the St. George Dragon starring in their advertising campaigns for some 34 years.

Simon hosted his own ABC-TV show for a year in 1982 and went on to produce and act in many of his own musical theatre company stage shows including The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S Pinafore, The Mikado, The Merry Widow and A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, plus more.

In 2014 Simon reunited with Jon English in a Harvest Rain Theatre Company performance of `Spamalot’.

“Jon English was a master – made it look so spontaneous even though it was well rehearsed,” said Simon.

Julie and Simon have many awards and honours to remind them of their wonderful careers in the entertainment industry, which also included 20 years of working together on stage and television.

Retirement plans put on hold

Retirement in her 40s was always a part of Julie’s plan but when Simon popped in one day and announced he was thinking of retiring she suggested the pair embark on a joint venture on stage.

With the help of maestro Tommy Tycho the seasoned performers teamed up in highly successful stage performances across the nation.

“I was never going to go past 40 in entertainment. At 50 I was still here but having a great time with Simon,” said Julie.

The show went on until five years ago.

“I rang Simon one day and said I don’t want to do it anymore and Simon said `OK’.

Family is both Julie and Simon’s first priority today.

While Simon admits a rare case of stage fright influenced his career choices along the way, he still remains involved in the industry as a member of the QPAC Board of Trustees, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra Board and a patron to many arts organisations plus a host of important industry awards and live performance organisations.

“I like to keep my hand in,” said Simon.

ALVA Women in Entertainment Goes Gold Coast host Susie Smither brought the afternoon to a conclusion by asking 20 questions to each guest speaker who readily participated in confessing everything from their favourite movies to their biggest role models.

And, by the way, they agreed they both preferred dark chocolate which was a handy tip for gift givers for Julie’s birthday two days later.

This rare and incredibly enjoyable occasion was topped off by Susie announcing that ALVA Women in Entertainment, a non-profit organisation, had raised more than $933,000 since 1979 to help those who need assistance. Ladies who are performers or wives of performers who are  interested in becoming a member are invited to do so via the website

Julie Anthony and Simon Gallaher share a few memories with On With the Show's Shirley Broun at the ALVA Women in Entertainment luncheon. Photo by Tracey Harrison

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