Sunday History Photo / Au

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 06:03
ThreadID: 133214 Views:3792 Replies:2 FollowUps:1
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George Edwards was born as Harold Parks, 11 March 1886 in Kent Town, South Australia; died 1953) was an Australian actor and producer. Edwards was a pioneer of the radio serial in Australia. Prior to that he was a comedian, vaudeville artist, acrobatic dancer and stage performer. and Helen Dorothy (Nell) Stirling a radio actress, was born on 22 August 1909 at Summer Hill, Sydney and died 1951, they were probably the busiest couple on Australian radio in its early years, during a golden age for radio drama and comedy. From the mid 1930s to the early 1950s, they broadcast multiple shows night and day to a national audience, and Dad and Dave was the most popular show. The public enthusiasm for the Dad and Dave radio shows was based in part on the success of the 1932 film version of On Our Selection, and its sequels starring Bert Bailey as Dad.

It is hard to grasp now just how big radio was in the period before television – or how busy the live radio schedule would have been for Edwards and Stirling. In 1934, at 2GB, they did at least 24 live productions per week. They presented as Darby and Joan during breakfast, followed by script meetings. They presented David and Dawn in the 6 pm children’s session, then an adaptation of a popular public domain novel such as Westward Ho! (1855) from 7 pm, a mystery series at 8 pm (such as Inspector Scott of Scotland Yard) and at 10 pm, six nights a week, an episode of Notable British Trials, during which Edwards got to play accused, prosecutor and judge.

The key to all this was the extraordinary range of voices that George Edwards could deploy in front of a microphone. The ‘man of 1,000 voices’ was famous for playing up to 12 different parts in one show. He is said to have done six different voices in one scene! The schedule was only alleviated when the couple signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1936. The evening shows were then pre-recorded, and could be sold as records to the gramophone-owning public. They left 2GB and signed up with 2UW, where they were soon heard over its Commonwealth Network. Their programs were also shipped to play on New Zealand radio.
Edwards and Stirling were a colourful pair. By 1931 he was a not quite successful vaudeville actor, dancer and comedian, feeling the effects of the Depression and the death of vaudeville. She was a dancer in the Fuller’s circuit chorus line, a striking redhead with long legs and a great business brain. They married in March 1934. She was 24, he was 47.

By 1937, when they started the Dad and Dave shows, they were both famous, if not infamous, and becoming very rich. Sumner Locke Elliott described her as looking ‘like a barmaid who had won the Irish sweepstakes’, when he saw her at an audition in 1934. She wore glossy black satin and ‘diamonds at ten o’clock in the morning’ and ‘a great deal of mascara and lipstick’. According to her entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography they were famous for their low wages to actors – ‘Scrooge Edwards and Nell Pound Stirling’ were among their nicknames.

One reason that George did so many voices was so that they didn’t have to pay another actor. In the Dad and Dave recording, he plays Dad alone, although in some episodes he played several characters. Nell Stirling usually played Mabel, Loris Bingham was Annie and Mum, and John Saul played Dave. The scripts were written by the prolific Maurice Francis until 1940, when he joined the army. Lorna Bingham, daughter of Loris, then took over and continued writing for the rest of the series.

George played fewer parts from 1948, when he and Nell went through a divorce. She kept control of the company and would only allow him to play Dad in the series. He bought racehorses, gambled and lost and drank heavily. She remarried four months after the divorce and died from an overdose of sleeping pills in 1951. Elliott doubted that it was an accident, though that is how it is usually described. George died in 1953, and the Dad and Dave serials concluded that same year.

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 08:13

Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 08:13
Ah thanks Doug, the theme song is etched into my brain.............

"There's a track winding back
To an old-fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai
Where the blue gums are growing
And the Murrumbidgee's flowing
Beneath that sunny sky
Where my daddy and mother
Are waiting for me
And the pals of my childhood
Once more I will see.
Then no more will I roam,
When I'm heading right for home
Along the road to Gundagai."

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AnswerID: 603372

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 12:14

Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 12:14
I'm old enough to remember when listening to the "wireless" shows, and looking for all the different radio stations on the dial, was a big part of daily entertainment!

"Blue Hills" and the ABC Country Hour were a huge entertainment draw in the radio age.
Even in the 1970's, I'd often sit in the ute on the job in farm back paddocks while I had lunch, and listen to Blue Hills or the Country Hour.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 603383

Follow Up By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 14:45

Sunday, Aug 14, 2016 at 14:45
I,m with you re Blue Hills and the country hour Ron. Even when we crashing around in the bush on dozers clearing...there was always one eye on the watch....and come 11.55...we were off them washing up for lunch and sitting up against the blade frame with the old National Panasonic Tranny perched on the bonnet ....and us not saying much to each other at all.
Now I live in town.....and still listen to the country hour as much as I still have ties to the land
Top marks to Doug for scratching this one up....certainly brought back great memories here ...that's for sure.

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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