Pioneering Australian ventriloquist Ron Blaskett, who appeared on The Tarax Show with his doll ‘Gerry Gee’, has died aged 96.
Blaskett performed with his doll on The Tarax Show, IMT and Young Talent Time, as well as making thousands of Live entertainment appearances such as the 1975 Toronto Expo, to cyclone victims in Darwin and Diggers in Vietnam.
Blaskett appeared on the GTV9’s Tarax Show from 1957 – 1964. Gerry Gee, imported from the US, cost £200 and was named after the “Gee” in the station’s name. It sold for $17,000 in 2006.
“My first impression when I saw Gerry Gee was one of disappointment,” he once recalled. “The slotted jaw, almond eyes and general modelling didn’t really grab me. Then as I started to work with him, although he seemed to weigh a ton on my arm, I realised the great expressions I could extract from him. One particularly good movement was the way his eyes could be rolled upward with a look of disgust. Not many figures have been made around the world with this ability. The fact that he could poke his tongue out was also an advantage — particularly for ice-cream commercials that came later. On trying him out on kids and adults, they liked his cheeky look and personality. Gerry Gee had certainly arrived.”
The popularity of the act would spawn The Adventures of Gerry Gee live action shorts and Gerry Gee Juniors toy reproductions in varying outfits — as The Beatles, in football colours, cowboy suits and spacemen.
“We were always coming up with different ideas and when a store bought the required number of dolls, they were entitled to a free appearance from Gerry and myself. Wherever we went we attracted crowds and it’s nice when a burly 40-year-old comes up to me shyly and tells me he was a Gerry Gee fan.”
There were other dolls too including Rags the Dog, Adolphus Twerk and Sandra Simpkins (operated by wife Merle), Sammy the Snail, Hetty the Hen, Misery Marshall, and the Lazybones Skinny Jones.
Blaskett also wrote songs including the original Gerry Gee song:
You’re tuned right into Channel Nine
Of course you know the viewing’s fine
And now the chap we want to see
Is that rascal Gerry Gee
Gerry Gee, Gerry Gee
Who and what and where is he?
I’ll tell you so you all will know
H’e not a jolly Eskimo
I’m that fellow, yes that’s me
I’m that rascal Gerry Gee
Blaskett kept performing until he retired at the age of 90, understood to be the world’s oldest working ventriloquist.
“I’m nearly 91 and I’ve just had 10 solid years of darn hard work. I think I can retire now,” he said in 2012.
Nine said in a statement, “The management and staff of the Nine Network are saddened by the passing of Ron Blaskett, legendary ventriloquist, who performed with his doll, Gerry Gee, on many GTV programs including In Melbourne Tonight and The Tarax Show. Many viewers were entertained by him as they grew up and he was an important part of the Nine family in the 50’s and 60’s. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, and friends.”