Legendary television host Jimmy Hannan, best known for a string of game shows & variety across the ’60s & ’70s, has died aged 84.
“He passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer,” daughter Emily Gillman told Nine. “He was 84 so he had a fantastic life.”
The TV icon died surrounded by family, and was not in pain, Mrs Gillman said.
Hannan had a mile-wide smile and exuberant personality that mad him ideal for game shows, mostly on Channel Nine. “Aren’t I lucky? They’re good TV teeth, a little bit buck, which make them extra good. They’ve really got to be for TV,” he once told the Women’s Weekly.
He appeared on TV in its very first year, 1956, as an 18 year old on Name That Tune, using the £500 prize to go to Canada to further his career.
After landing a compere role on the musical variety show Saturday Date in 1963, where Olivia Newton-John and Billy Thorpe got their start. He even recorded ‘Beach Ball’ -with backing vocals from the very-young Bee Gees- reaching #2 on the charts. In 1965 he won the Gold Logie for the show.
Key shows he hosted were his own variety shows Jimmy, Jimmy Hannan Tonight, The Jimmy Hannan Show, Celebrity Squares, Spending Spree and Let’s Make a Deal as well as regular appearances on In Melbourne Tonight, The Graham Kennedy Show, The Mike Walsh Show and The Ernie Sigley Show.
At the height of his career in the mid-1970s, Hannan was recording 13 television appearances a week, plus radio in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Other credits include Say When, Take a Letter, The Go! Show, The Weekend Starts Here, Split Second, Micro Macro, Have a Go, Ted Hamilton’s Musical World, Bandstand, Personality Squares, Search for a Star, $100,000 Money Makers, Value Shopping, The Late Show and This Is Your Life.
In 2010 he attended GTV9’s farewell party at Bendigo Street Richmond.
He once said, “Whenever I’ve compered a show, I’ve always stuck to the philosophy that it [the show] comes first. I try to play it low-key so people watch the programme instead of me. So many performers grab the spotlight and don’t let go.”
Hannan will be farewelled in a private ceremony on Friday.