Listen To Older Voices : Life & Times of Lynn Thorpe – Part 1

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices [A Baby Boomers Edition], which is a 
program produced by Rob Greaves for Wesley Connect and podcast through
the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

Lynn’s story is another story from the Baby Boomer generation, those born in the decade post WWII and who are now entering their senior years. As we listen to Lynn and her story we might reflect on other Baby Boomers stories and realise, that while their age is now generally between 65 and 70+ years of age they are still very much active and leaving quite a legacy.

Born in the Melbourne bayside town of Portsea Lynn’s early years consisted of sun, sand and a one-room classroom and she experienced a freedom that previous generations didn’t have, and today’s generation is unable to have.

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Lynn loved music from an early stage of life but was utterly taken by the music of the Beatles and similar groups during that period when Australia was caught in a wave of music coming out of Britain, and as a result enjoyed life in the 60’s to its fullest. By the end of the 1960’s she was working in the music industry, where she met one of Australia’s true Rock & Roll stars – Billy Thorpe. Now as we listen, we understand that at first it was more of a case of Billy being smitten by Lynn than vice versa.


Click to hear Lynn Thorpe – Part 1


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

Listen To Older Voices : Ellice Hatfull – Part 3

Ellice Hatfull - Part 3
Ellice Hatfull Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program  
produced by Rob Greaves for Wesley Connect and podcast through the Toorak Times

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

In the final program on the Life & Times of Ellice Hatfull, Ellice reflects over her 98 years and shares the story of the gradual loss of her sight and openly discusses the whole ageing process. She continues to share stories that will make you smile as well as leave you in amazement.

Ellice is a woman totally at peace with herself and as a parting gesture shares with us some of her life’s philosophies, which will sit very comfortably with many listeners.


Click to hear Ellice Hatfull – Part 3

Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

Listen To Older Voices : Ellice Hatfull – Part 2

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program produced by Rob Greaves
for Wesley Mission Victoria and podcast through the Toorak Times and Tagg.

 

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

In the second part of the story of 98-year-old Ellice Hatfull, we follow her story through the years of WWII. These stories include her recall of the buzz bombs and of family air raid shelters. We also learn of the somewhat humorous situation that led to her writing to a young British sailor – Stan Hatfull and how despite her initial reticence to even meet him, she ends up happily marrying him.

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Stan and Ellice on their wedding day


She shares the story of how she and Stan come to migrate to Australia and provides a fascinating insight into life in those migrant camps set up in Melbourne in the early 1950’s. We often talk of living history and Ellice is a prime example.



Click to hear Ellice Hatfull – Part 2


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

ANTON GREGOR RUBINSTEIN (Concert Pianist, Composer, Conductor and Educator)

Anton Rubinstein was more controversial in his day as a Russian composer and educator than he was as a pianist and conductor.

His tours throughout Europe and America made him the most famous pianist of his time. Few of his many compositions are played today.

Rubinstein was born to Jewish Parents in the Village of Vikhvatinets in the district of Podoisk, in Russia on the 28 November 1829. Before he was 5 years old, his paternal grandfather ordered all members of the family convert from Judaism to Russian Orthodoxy. Even though he would be raised a Christian, he would later become an atheist.

His father owned a pencil factory in Moscow and his mother a competent musician, focused on teaching her son piano a the age of five. He would later perform for Alexander Villoing, who would later take the boy under his wing as a non-paying student.

At the age of 10, he made his first public appearance at a charity benefit concert in Moscow. Later that same year, his mother sent him to Paris with Villoing to see if he would be accepted at the Paris Conservatoire. He was unsuccessful, though chose to stay on with Villoing for a year.

In December 1840, Rubinstein played in the Salle Erard for an audience that included Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. Chopin then invited Rubinstein to his private studio where Rubinstein played for him. It was here that Liszt advised Villoing to take Rubinstein to Germany where he could expand on his knowledge and study compostion, but Villoing had other ideas and instead took Rubinstein on an extended concert tour of Europe and Western Russia. They returned to Moscow in June 1843.

Upon his return, his mother was determined to further both the musical careers of Anton and his younger brother Nikolai, however money was tight. She then allowed Villoing to once again take Rubinstein on tour, this time around Russia. Anton was 14 and Nikolai 8 when they were sent to Saint Petersburg to play for Tsar Nicholas I and the Imperial family at the Winter Palace.

Whilst still a child, he traveled through Europe. Audiences everywhere received his performance with enthusiasm.

In the spring of 1844, Rubinstein, his brother, sister Luba and mother travelled to Berlin, where they met up with Felix Mendelssohn who had heard Rubinstein play when he toured there previously. He told his mother he needed no further instruction with piano study, but needed more work on composition and theory. Both boys were then directed to work with Siegfried Dehn.

In 1846, the family got word that his father was gravely ill, so leaving Rubinstein behind, his mother and siblings returned to Russia. He continued his studies, first with Dehn and then Adolf Bernard Marx. He was now 17 years old and could no longer pass as a child prodigy.

Rubinstein sought out Liszt in Vienna, hoping he would accept him as his pupil, but he turned his back on him. After an unsuccessful year in Vienna and a concert tour in Hungary, Rubinstein returned to Berlin and continued giving piano lessons to students.

Two years later and the revolution forced Him back to Saint. Petersburg (now Leningrad). Here he taught, gave the occasional concert and performed frequently for the Imperial Court.

There the Grand Duchess Helen became his patroness and gave him many opportunities to be heard in public.

By 1852, he had become a leading figure in Saint Petersburg’s musical life, performing as a soloist and collaborating with some of the outstanding instrumentalists and vocalists who came to the Russian capital.

It was partly due to his lack of success on the Russian opera stage that led Rubinstein to consider going abroad once more to secure his reputation as a serious artist.

In 1854 Rubinstein began a four-year concert tour of Europe. This was his first major concert tour in a decade.

In 1858, he became court pianist and concert conductor. The following year, he became director of the Royal Russian Musical Society, and four years later, he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Rubinstein not only founded it and was its first director but also recruited an imposing pool of talent for its faculty. He served as its director until 1867, and again from 1887 – 1890.

It was during this period that Rubinstein drew his greatest success as a composer, beginning with his Fourth Piano Concerto in 1864 and culminating with his opera The Demon in 1871.

Rubinstein then travelled to the United States of America for a tour of the country in 1872. Rubinstein stayed in America 239 days, giving 215 concerts—sometimes two and three a day in as many cities.

Rubinstein wrote of his American experience,

“May Heaven preserve us from such slavery! Under these conditions there is no chance for art—one simply grows into an automaton, performing mechanical work; no dignity remains to the artist; he is lost…. The receipts and the success were invariably gratifying, but it was all so tedious that I began to despise myself and my art. So profound was my dissatisfaction that when several years later I was asked to repeat my American tour, I refused pointblank…”

Despite his misery, Rubinstein made enough money from his American tour to give him financial security for the rest of his life. Upon his return to Russia, he “hastened to invest in real estate”, purchasing a dacha in Peterhof, not far from Saint Petersburg, for himself and his family.

In his later life, Rubinstein continued to tour as a pianist and give performances as a conductor.

In 1887, he returned to the Conservatory in Saint Petersburg with the intent of improving overall standards. He removed inferior students, fired or demoted many of the professors and made entrance and examination requirements more stringent and revised the curriculum.

He eventually resigned again in 1891 and left Russia. He re-settled in Dresden and once again began touring in Germany and Austria. Nearly all of these performances were for charity benefits.

Rubinstein coached a few pianists, but focused on one particular student Josef Hofmann. Hofmann would later become one of the finest keyboard artists of the 20th century.

Despite his sentiments on ethnic politics in Russia, Rubinstein returned there occasionally to visit friends and family. He gave his final concert in Saint Petersburg on January 14, 1894. With his health failing rapidly, Rubinstein moved back to Peterhof in the summer of 1894. He died there on November 20 of that year, having suffered from heart disease for some time.

The former Troitskaya street in Saint Petersburg where he lived is now named after him.

 

Listen To Older Voices : Ellice Hatfull – Part 1

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program produced by Rob Greaves for Wesley Connect and podcast through the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

This is part 1 of a 3-part program featuring 98-year-old Ellice Hatfull. As we take a journey together through Ellice’s life, we come to understand something of this remarkably energetic and positive woman. If there is ever a prime example of positive ageing it is found in this story.

A very young Ellice – circa 1921

Born in London in 1919 Ellice is still able to recall some of those very early years with her 3 sisters and her brother. She talks about the difficult working and living conditions working class people faced in those days and of the pressure put upon her when her mother dies of TB and she is required to look after her younger siblings. Then, 3years later, her father dies. However, this is not a story of doom and gloom it is quite the opposite and this becomes very clear as Ellice talks about her life, and how neighbourhoods in those pre-war days were real communities.

Click to hear Ellice Hatfull – Part 1


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

Listen To Older Voices : John Steen – Part 3

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program produced by Rob Greaves for
Wesley Mission Victoria and podcast through the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

​Welcome to the 3rd and final program featuring the Life & Times of John Steen. In this final program we learn more about Bev, John’s wife, and the incredible life they carved out together when they moved to the isolated but beautiful King Island. Among his many stories is one involving how John almost came to sink the Straightsman, which was the ship that connected King island to mainland Australia.

 

Image of the MV Straightsman - 1971

The stories just come and come and it is easy to forget the incredibly difficult life John had as a boy with polio. He and Bev returned eventually to the mainland where he ended his working career. At the time when this interview was conducted, in 2007, John was facing the very real possibility of loosing his leg in a necessary operation but, we know that John has faced and succeeded in the face of much adversity in his life and indeed shines through with that typical Aussie spirit.

 


Click to hear John Steen – Part 3



Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

KATE BUSH (British Singer/Songwriter)

Catherine “Kate” Bush was born 30 July 1958 in BexleyHeath, Northwest Kent to parents Robert Bush and Hannah Daly. She has two older brothers John and Paddy.

Bush has a very artistic background, her father a physician and accomplished pianist, and her mother is an Irish folk dancer. Paddy worked as a musical instrument maker, and John was a Poet and photographer. With this musical influence, Kate was inspired to teach herself the piano at the age of 11. She also mastered the organ and violin. She soon began writing her own music and then added lyrics.

Bush had been writing songs for two years and had over 50 compostitions. Together with her family, she put them onto a demo tape, however the record companies weren’t inspired to give her a recording contract. Ricky Hopper a family friend then took the tape to his friend David Gilmour, a member of the band Pink Floyd and told him about the 16 year olds four octave range and interest in the supernatural. Impressed with what he heard, Gilmour worked with Bush, to get a more professional sounding demo tape recorded that would be more saleable to record companies. Gilmour financed the project himself and three tracks were chosen for the tape. The tape was produced by a friend of Gilmour, Andrew Powell, who unbeknown to any of them at the time, would go onto produce her first two albums.

Once completed, the tape arrived on the desk of EMI executive Terry Slater. Slater was impressed by what he heard, and immediately signed her to a retainer for two years. At the time, the British music industry was reaching a point of stagnation. Visually oriented rock performers were growing in popularity, and recording labels were totally open to experimenting with such artists.

Kate Bush.
Pictures Courtesy Of EMI

Bob Mercer, the Managing Director at EMI felt Bush’s songs were good enough to release, but had the album failed, he felt that because of Bush’s age, she may not have been able to cope with it. Placing Bush on a retainer gave them all the much needed time for Bush to grow both personally and musically. For the next two years, Bush stayed in school and continued to study music, and pen some 200 songs. Bush later in an interview said, she felt that EMI signed her to the retainer, to stop her from signing with another record company.

After formalizing the contract, Bush was given a sizable advance, which she used to enroll in interpretive dance classes and mime training. For six months, she also performed as lead vocalist in a band called “KT Bush Band”. Finally in August 1977, Bush began recording her debut album.

Her debut album “The Kick Inside” was released when she was 19 years old, however some of the tracks that appeared on it, were written when she was 13 years old.
Both Bush and EMI Executives were at logger heads over which single to release as her debut single. EMI wanted to go with “James and the Cold Gun” but Bush was determined to start off her career with the song “Wuthering Heights”. The single was released and it hit #1 position in both the UK and Australia. Bush became the first woman in the UK to reach #1 position with her own composition. Her second release “The Man with The Child In His Eyes” reached number 6 in the UK and similar in Australia.

Feeling pressure from EMI to publish another album, Bush decided to set up her own publishing company “Kate Bush Music” and her own management company “Novercia”, to maintain total control over her work. Members of her immediate family made up the companies Board of Directors. Part of her contractual obligations to EMI included promotional work and a follow up tour on the back of the album release. The tour named “The Tour Of Life” (1970) lasted six weeks. Typical of her need to control every aspect of her performance, she was involved in every aspect of the tour from choreography, to set design and staff recruitment. The show was noted for her dancing, complex lighting and 17 costume changes.

Bush’s second album titled “Never Ever” saw her collaborating with Jon Kelly and heavily involved in the production of the album. The album became her first to reach #1 in the UK charts. Her top selling single from the album was a song titled “Babooshka” which reached #5.

In September 1982, Bush released album number three “The Dreaming” the first album Bush totally produced by herself. The critics weren’t kind. Most feeling the album was “Overproduced” and lacked the energy and trademark sound of her earlier albums. It entered the charts at number three, but to date still holds the title of the lowest selling album, gamering only a silver status.

Since she has recorded and produced Hounds of love (1985), The Sensual World (1989), The Red Shoes (1993), Aerial (2005), Directors Cut (2011), and 50 Words for Snow (2011).

Bush married guitarist Dan McIntosh and the couple have a son Albert.

Kate Bush is undeniably one of the most successful and popular solo female performers to come out of England.

FARRAH FAWCETT – MAJORS (Actress/Model)

Sadly Farrah Fawcett is no longer with us, but one things for sure, to many men and women of her time, they will remember her as the ultimate pin up girl, women wanted to look like and the arm candy all men wish they would go home too.

Ferrah Leni Fawcett was born on 2nd February, 1947 in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, Texas. She was the second daughter of Pauline a homemaker, and Jim Fawcett, an oil field contractor. She later changed her name to Farrah.

Fawcett attended John J.Pershing Middle School in Houston, Texas and from 1962 – 1965, she went to W.B. Ray High School, where she held the title of “Most Beautiful Student” for all four years.

It was the fall of 1965, when Fawcett enrolled at The University of Texas in Austin. There she planned to major in microbiology and joined the Delta Delta Delta sorority. The following year, she was discovered by a celebrity publicist who wanted her to move to California to work as a model. Inititally her parents forbid her to go, however, her persitance prevailed and they finally conceded when she told them she would do it for a while and then return to finish her studies, so they accompanied her on the trip to Hollywood. Within two weeks of arriving, she was signed up to a modeling agency. Immediately Fawcett was inundated with offers for television and pictorial/poster work. Any plans of returning to school fell by the wayside.

With her pictures appearing in the most popular magazines around America, she was quickly noticed by casting agents and she started landing small parts in forgettable movies, such as 1970’s “Myra Breckinridge”, her role an ingenuous blonde.

Fawcett remained in Hollywood.

Lee Majors a handsome young actor was working on the set of “The Big Valley” an American television series, when Dave Gershenson, his publicity agent came across a picture of a young woman who had just come to Hollywood looking for a break in her modeling/acting career. Gershenson knew that Majors would like the Texan Beauty and made a few calls and obtained her contact details. When Farrah first heard from Majors, she thought he was the rudest man she had ever encountered.

Majors was working on set and during a brief break rang the all girl boarding house where Fawcett was staying. On the answering machine a simple message “Please tell Farrah that Lee Majors will be by at eight oclock to pick her up”. Later Majors explained to Fawcett that when you work on set, you can’t always get back to the phone and he didn’t want her to make other plans. After laying her eyes on him, it seemed that this handsome actor genuinely wanted to take her out, as quite clearly he could have had his pick of Hollywood girls.

That first night out together, Fawcett spent part of the night in the ladies room being sick, something Lee thought at the time was a hint that she didn’t really want to go out with him in the first place. But despite the rocky start, Majors wasn’t going to let her slip through his fingers, and the next day he sent her a bakers dozen of long stemmed yellow roses. Fawcett was touched by his thoughtfulness and from that moment forward, they became inseparable, and were soon seen and photographed at all of the Hollywood hot spots and social events.

They began dating in 1968. Majors and Fawcett were married in 1973, the 5th anniversary of their first date. The wedding was held at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California.

Their garden ceremony hosted 150+ guests. Fawcetts sister Diane had the role of matron of honor, and Harvey Yeary, Majors father was best man.

Majors and Fawcett flourished during the mid seventies as they became TV’s golden couple. While Majors career was in full flight, Fawcett’s was yet to take off. She managed to have quite a few guest appearances on television shows, even joining her husband on the set of “The Six Million Dollar Man” for four episodes. But that was all about to change for her in the year 1975. Fawcett got a small part in “Logan’s Run” and in 1976 was cast in “Charlie’s Angels”.

Fawcett was cast along side Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson as three glamorous ex policewomen who went to work for the Townsend Detective Agency as private investigators for a unseen boss played by John Forsythe. The show was an instant hit.

 

Though with success, cracks started to surface in Fawcett’s once perfect marriage. From earlier reports of wedded bliss, there were now reports of jealousy and bitterness between the two. Long shooting schedules and weeks apart didn’t help matters.

Lee was out of town filming in Toronto and agreed to keep an eye on best friend Ryan O’Neils daughter Tatum who was also in the city, and in return, O’Neil said he would keep an eye on Farrah. Majors later found out that the two were involved, and he doubly betrayed by both his wife and his best friend.The couple officially separated in the late 70’s but it wasn’t until 1982 an official divorce was announced. It took 30 months of legal wrangling and four days or arguing in court before their marriage formally ended.

It was during her first season with the show that Fawcett posed for Photographer Bruce McBroom. With peroxide blonde free flowing locks, a dazzling smile, and skintight red swimsuit, Broom had the perfect ingredients to a bestselling 1976 poster of Farrah Fawcett, that found it’s way into so many young boys bedrooms across America. Farrah’s famous poster first appeared in Life Magazine in 1976, and with sales over 12 million, Farrah was the most popular pin-up of the 70’s.

The image catapulted Fawcett to superstardom. Her layered hair was adorned by women all over and became known as “The Farrah” cut and style. A shampoo company saw a quick buck and jumped on the bandwagon by releasing a shampoo in her name too.

Despite her overwhelming popularity, Fawcett chose not to return to the show after the first season. Aaron Spelling the director/producer of the show was not amused. He sued the actress for breech of contract. When faced with a 7 million dollar lawsuit, Fawcett and Spelling came to an agreement that she would make periodic guest appearances over the next few years and they cast Cheryl Ladd as her younger sister as Kris Munroe.

Fawcett turned her attention to film roles, with more depth to them. Sadly, her appearance as a ditsy blonde in the movie “Cannonball Run” were more the stereotypical roles that came her way.

All during this time, Fawcett and O’Neil have a sometimes on, sometimes off relationship between the years of 1979 through to 1997. Together they have a son, Redmond in 1985.

In 1984, Fawcett tried her hand at producing as well as starring in the movie “The Burning Bed”. The movie is based on a woman driven to kill her husband after suffering physical abuse for years. For her performance, Fawcett received an Emmy nomination.

She also won critics over with her performance in the movie “Extremities” where she played a rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker.

1989, she played a mother who shot her children in another mini-series called “Small Sacrifices” receiving her second Emmy Nomination. A third Emmy Nomination would come from a movie she appears in called “The Guardian”.

Throughout most of the late 1980s and early 1990s Fawcett’s projects came from TV movies.

For many years Fawcett was approached to take her clothes off for movies roles and photo shoots and she resisted for years, however at the age of 48, having been approached by Hugh Hefner, she agreed to do a topless shoot for Playboy Magazine. The magazine sold over 4 million copies. She returned to the magazine two years later and also did a spread for Vanity Fair.

Fawcett’s career was at an all time high, but that couldn’t be said for her personal life. After 15 years of a very turbulent relationship with O’Neil, Fawcett decides to call it quits. It wasn’t that long before she found herself in the arms of Hollywood Director James Orr.

In 1997 Fawcett appeared on the Letterman show, and her incoherent behavior led many to speculate as to whether or not she was abusing drugs or alcohol or both.

In 1998, Orr was arrested for physically attacking Fawcett after she turned down his marriage proposal. He was later convicted of assault and battery.

In 2000, she starred in the film Dr. T and the Women alongside Richard Gere and Helen Hunt. She also began seeing O’Neil off and on again.

Theirs no question that Farrah Fawcett was one of the most beautiful women of the 70’s. But one thing that no-one can avoid is getting older. The sad truth of the entertainment industry is that the older you get, the less job opportunities that come your way. This and for this reason mostly, celebrities feel the pressure to undergo sometime extreme transformations in an attempt to hold onto their youth. Fawcett was not immune to this pressure and underwent many surgeries. Towards the end of her life, she was barely recognizable.

2006 and Fawcett suffered a series of personal losses that were close to her, one of those being the man who sued her, Aaron Spelling. The other was her mother Polly.

A strong and healthy looking Fawcett reunited with Jackson and Smith for a tribute to the late Charile’s Angels creator Aaron Spelling at the Emmys in 2006. This same year John Forsythe was diagnosed with colorectal cancer after surviving quadruple bypass surgery in 1979.

By the year out, the cancer curse that had hit her co-stars in Charlies Angels, Kate Jackson (breast cancer) and Jaclyn Smith (breast cancer) earlier, was flowing through her body too. Journalists referred to it as the “triple curse” when Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer.

Both Smith and Jackson are survivors. When Fawcett rang Smith to give her the news, Fawcett in her humor said, what was it, the water we were drinking??? Clearly Fawcett maintained her humor, which was hard to do in the face of cancer.

In 1987, Kate Jackson was on the set of a movie when she felt something was wrong with her body, after repeated warnings to schedule a mammogram, Jackson consulted her doctor and he sent her to have her first mammogram of her life. The results confirmed her fears, she had a malignant growth in her left breast. She couldn’t even feel it. It was microscopic. For the first time in her life, she was faced with the question, did she want to live or die. If you choose life as she did, its never the same. Smith cancelled a flight to New York and rushed to her friends side. Four days after the diagnosis Kate underwent a lumpectomy in which a malignant tumor and a small amount of healthy breast tissue surrounding it were removed.   The following year her mammogram showed everything as normal. But the following year, they found microscopic cancerous sells in the same breast, and Kate immediately underwent surgery to remove part of her the breast and later had reconstructive surgery. Kate has been cancer free for over 20 years.

Thirteen years after witnessing Kate Jacksons personal struggle, Smith was shocked to discover a lump of her own in 2002. After hearing the doctors diagnosis of breast cancer, she said “take it off”, “just take it off”. After her doctor examined the results of her tests, her particular kind of tumor was best to deal with using radiation and a lumpectomy. Thankfully with early detection Smith was able to avoid a mastectomy and she to has been cancer free ever since.

But this was not to be the same outcome for Fawcett. In August 2006, the girls came together to honor Aaron Spelling at the 58th Annual Emmy awards who had passed on.

While the reunion was a joy for Fawcett, in the days following she began feeling pain and fatigue, but wasn’t sure what was wrong. She didn’t see a doctor straight away, waiting until September for an appointment. After he sent her for tests, the diagnosis was returned, she had anal cancer. Farrah took the news bravely initially, but once it sank in, she cried for days, then one day she woke with a determination like she’d never had before. A determination not to let it defeat her, she would take it head on and fight it to the end.

Cases of anal cancer are quite rare. If caught in its first stage, there is an 80% curability rate. The diagnosis reunited her not only with the girls, but with O’Neil who became her constant companion as she went through successful chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Fawcett was given the all clear for her 60th birthday, but Fawcett and her family were completely devastated to learn that the disease had returned three months later. She received the news after a routine check up discovered a malignant polyp, smaller than a pea. Then the news turned to bad to worse when it was discovered it had spread to Fawcetts liver. Hope started to fade, but Fawcett continued to fight for her life.

After finding that standard cancer treatments were ineffective in her case, she decided to travel to Germany to seek alternative treatment not available in the United States. Alana Stewart went with her and at the request of Fawcett, she took her home video camera to document the journey.

Fawcett’s hair, the mane that completed her, started to fall out from the treatment she’d received. O’Neil kept the hair and still has it in his home.

In 2009, an advanced screening of her documentary was held but Fawcett was to weak and heavily medicated to attend. The movie that follows her journey from start to finish is a painful yet uplifting testament to her courage and strength.

On the morning of June 25, 2009, Fawcett (62) passed away in the hospitals intensive care unit, only three hours before the world faced another shocking exit with that of Michael Jackson.

Ironically Fawcett served as a patron and spokesperson for the American Cancer Society for many years, as a result of loosing her older sister Diane to lung cancer in 1998.

A heartbroken O’Neil and son Redmond both broke down in tears at the private funeral service of Farrah Fawcett as they listened to the final letter she penned to them. In the letter she addresses the ups and downs in their relationship ending with “When I figure out what it is all about, I will tell you”

The service was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles following her Catholic beliefs.

He son Redmond who was serving time in jail for drug related charges , was granted 3 hours release to say goodbye to his mother.

 

 

 

RIP Farrah Fawcett (1947 – 2009)

Listen To Older Voices : John Steen – Part 2

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program produced by Rob Greaves for
Wesley Mission Victoria and podcast through the Toorak Times and Tagg.
Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.
In this, the second of a 3-part program featuring John Steen, we learn that despite his earlier setbacks when he contracted polio as a young child, John goes on to gain an apprenticeship in boat building and ends up working on Australia’s famous Ord river project.

 


At the conclusion of that job John purchases a 10meter Cray boat that he works, and then, joins the crew of an old schooner that sailed from Melbourne to Sydney. But the story doesn’t end there as we learn of his marriage and the ceremony at Melbourne’s beautiful and historic Ripponlea Gardens.

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GUS MERCURIO Australian Actor

Gus Mercurio (actor), renown for his gravelly voice, was also one of the most recognised and loved faces in Australian television history.

Augustino Eugenio “Gus” Mercurio born 10th August, 1928 was an American born Australian actor who appeared in both television and film.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, USA Mercurio was the eldest child of Vincent and Celia. He had three siblings, two sisters Gerie and Connie and one brother, Tony. His parents divorced when he was seven years old.

Mercurio came from a family of boxers. His father boxed professionally under the name Vince McGurk, and one of his uncles, who also was a professional boxer, did so under the name of Ray Miller. This inspired Mercurio to also enter the ring.

He served three years in the US Marines where he put his ring skills to good use. He became a professional boxer, was injured in his last two fights, but this didn’t deter his love for the sport.

The former professional boxer arrived in Melbourne, Australia as a qualified referee with the US Olympic boxing team in 1956 and never left.

But it was his knockabout looks and laid-back attitude that earned him a string of character acting roles and made him a favourite with local audiences. Having successfully auditioned for consideration to be included in the cast of an ABC radio play, and selected at his first audition, his energetic personality and natural talents quickly came to the attention of Hector Crawford, of Crawford Productions.

Mercurio went on to appear in many Australian television series and films including:-

  • Alvin Purple rides again (1974)
  • Cash and Company TV series (1975)[7]
  • Eliza Fraser (1976)
  • The Sullivans TV series (1976–1983)
  • Power Without Glory TV series (1976)
  • Tandarra TV series (1976)[7]
  • The Blue Lagoon (1980)
  • Harlequin (1980)
  • Turkey Shoot (1982)
  • The Man From Snowy River (1982)
  • Five Mile Creek TV series (1983)
  • All the Rivers Run  (1983)
  • The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)
  • The Challenge TV series (1986)
  • Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
  • The Great Air Race (1990) (TV)
  • Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)
  • Lightning Jack (1994)
  • Flipper TV Series (1996)
  • Doing Time for Patsy Cline (1997)

Mercurio was also the president of the Australian Boxing Hall of Fame.

Mercurio married twice and fathered six children, including Paul Mercurio a dancer/actor and star of the film “Strictly Ballroom” (1992).

Sigrid Thornton, who worked with him in “The Man from Snowy River” and “All The Rivers Run” remembers a man who always had a positive attitude.

Thornton:- “He had his life as an actor and as a boxer and you have to be a fighter to make it and stay in the field of acting. I imagine there was something about Australia that attracted him. He had a relaxed charm about him even though he was mostly cast to play tough characters. He had a rugged kind of look, but that belied the sensitivity of his personality. He was kind, generous and a spirited human being”.

Thornton last saw Mercurio at the “Man From Snowy River” re-union in Mansfield. She knew he was not well. She told “The Age” newspaper, “He made a supreme effort to get there and I am glad I had that time with him”.

It was a post on his sons website, that would announce to all, just how gravely ill Mercurio really was.

It read: “My dad is at this very moment laying on a table in a hospital getting cut open to fix an aneurysm in his chest”.

“Spare a thought for him if you can. He is a tough old bugger so he should be fine, however he is getting on – 82 and has become a little frailer over the last few years.”

Sadly for his family, Mercurio passed away at Epworth Hospital following complications during surgery. He was 82 years of age.

His is survived by his second wife Rita, and his six children.

Countess Caroline: “I personally got to know Gus Mercurio back in the early 80’s. Whilst I studied Catering and Hotel Management, we were also required to gain work experience in the hospitality industry. I started out my work experience at a deli in Domain Road, South Yarra called “John’s Gourmet” which Gus often frequented. He always sat at the same table, and I was the restaurant supervisor and would see to his order personally. He was a very generous tipper, often tipping more than what his actual meal cost, between $10.00 and $20.00. One time a waitress was ill, so I had to step in and work her section, and when Gus was told, he picked up his newspaper and stood up. The owner approached him very quickly concerned that he had just arrived and looked like leaving. He told Peggy that he wanted to sit in my section, she then said he could stay at his regular table and that she would send me over to take care of him. We often chatted and he was a perfect gentleman. One day, he asked me to put out my hand. I did. He placed into it a coin. It was a strange coin. He told me that he had held onto it for a long time and he wanted me to have it. It had brought him luck, and he said, that he wanted to “pass the luck on”. He told me to never part with it and always remember who gave it to me. I still have my coin to this very day, would never part with it and when I look at it, fondly remember the kind gentleman who gave it to me.