The family of television funny lady Jeanne Little has set up a charity to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research after speaking about her battle with the debilitating disease.
Her daughter Katie told Today Tonight Little’s ailing health meant it is now difficult for her mother to recognise her and she was unable to give any more interviews.
“You get this blank, slightly confused look staring back at you where you know she can kind of recognise you but…. it’s horrible. Just horrible,” she said.
“If you watched old TV footage of mum she was one of the most vibrant TV personalities you were ever likely to come across. And you just wouldn’t believe that mum’s the same person, struck with this disease.
“She went from a glamorous woman, perfectly capable of looking after herself to someone who needs assisted care. 24 hour assisted care.”
Little is now in care, needing help with basic tasks including dressing, eating and everyday functions after having quickly regressed.
“Six months. So fast.”
Katie said her father Barrie was too upset to speak about her battle.
“I really think dad is still in shock with it. Mum was his life,” she said.
Little rose to prominence in the 1970s on The Mike Walsh Show where her bubbly personality, outrageous costumes and “Daarling” catchphrase made her an instant hit. She went on to have a career in showbiz performing on television, cabaret and theatre, winning three Logie Awards, including a Gold Logie, in the process.
Maria Venuti, who has spent many years performing alongside Little, visits her each week in care.
“You just couldn’t believe that someone so vibrant, that this horrible illness would attack this beautiful person,” she said.
For many months relatives had declined to speak on the record about rumours regarding her health. But a joint interview with Today Tonight and New Idea magazine were utilised to announce a charity for research funds.
“Let’s try and do something positive,” she said.
“Let’s wear vibrant colours, let’s put mum’s terrific image with her false eyelashes looking fabulous on the webpage.
“That’s how mum would want to be remembered.”