John Blackman Death, 76 Farewell Star Dies

John Blackman, a beloved figure in Australian entertainment, recently passed away at the age of 76. Known for his sparkling wit and memorable contributions to radio and television, Blackman left an indelible mark on the industry. His career spanned several decades, earning him admiration and respect from colleagues and fans alike.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born on July 14, 1947, in Mount Waverley, Melbourne, Blackman attended Syndal Primary School. He left school and home at the age of 16, taking on various jobs, including a cash van salesman for a cigarette distributor and a sales representative for a perfume company. However, it was in 1969, at the age of 22, that Blackman found his true calling in radio. He joined regional New South Wales station 2GN Goulburn, where he wore many hats as an announcer, newsreader, copywriter, salesman, and record librarian.

Rise in Radio

By 1970, Blackman moved to 2CA Canberra, and a year later, he returned to Melbourne to work at 3AW, aiming for the “big time.” His talent and versatility quickly shone through, making him a cherished voice in the industry. Blackman’s love for radio was evident, and he topped the radio ratings on 3AW Breakfast with Bruce Mansfield, also known as Uncle Roy, from 1981 to 1986.

Television Stardom

In addition to his radio career, Blackman became a prominent figure on television. He was the voice behind the beloved character Dickie Knee on “Hey Hey It’s Saturday,” a role that brought him significant fame. The character, a polystyrene head with black hair and a blue cap on a stick, became a staple of the show, contributing to its unique flavor. Blackman’s quick wit and comedic timing made him an integral part of the program, which transitioned from a morning variety show to a Saturday night primetime hit.

Family and Personal Life

In December 1972, Blackman married Cecile, a businesswoman and entrepreneur who played a crucial role in his career. The couple had a daughter, Tiffany, who was born three months premature and blind. Despite the challenges, Tiffany grew up to be incredibly independent, which Blackman often praised. He admired her resilience and strength, seeing her as a source of inspiration.

Later Career and Challenges

In 1975, Blackman moved to Sydney to join 2UE as a “floating announcer.” However, eight months into the job, he returned to Melbourne. The radio industry was transitioning from music to talk shows, a shift that initially affected ratings. By the early 1980s, Blackman’s television career was in full swing with “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” moving to primetime, where he continued to entertain audiences with his daring humor.

Health Struggles

Despite his popularity and success, Blackman faced significant health challenges later in life. He battled invasive skin cancer, which led to the removal of his jaw, and more recently, bone cancer. Throughout these struggles, Blackman remained resilient, supported by his wife Cecile and the love of his fans and colleagues.

Legacy and Tributes

Following the news of his passing, tributes poured in from across the entertainment industry. Richard Wilkins, Nine’s entertainment editor, remembered Blackman for his “sparkling wit” and his integral role in “Hey Hey It’s Saturday.” Veteran broadcaster Neil Mitchell expressed his sadness, noting that Blackman was a constant presence throughout his radio career. Both Nine and 3AW released statements honoring Blackman’s dedication and impact on Australian media.

Final Years

Despite stepping away from the radio in 1990, Blackman’s voice and presence continued to be felt. He co-hosted a breakfast show on 3UZ with Ian Cover and later with Wilbur Wilde from “Hey Hey It’s Saturday.” Even after his official retirement, Blackman’s influence on the industry and his legacy of laughter, dedication, and professionalism remained strong.

Conclusion

John Blackman’s passing marks the end of an era in Australian entertainment. His remarkable career, spanning radio and television, touched the lives of many and left a lasting impact on the industry. As tributes continue to flow, it is clear that John Blackman will be deeply missed. His voice, humor, and warmth will echo in the memories of those who had the pleasure of knowing and listening to him.

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