Monday’s Australian Story “I Dream of Jeannie” looks back on the life of the late, great Jeannie Little and how the family’s life was impacted by Alzheimer’s.
Katie Little reflects on her mother’s colourful life -this could well be the show’s biggest episode all year.
Unique and outrageous, Jeanne Little was the comedy dah-ling of daytime television in the 70s and 80s. Four months after her death, her daughter Katie reveals some intimate family secrets.
“I’ve never actually spoken about this on camera,” she told the program. “This is quite a weird experience.”
Jeanne Little was a showbusiness legend: a daytime TV star, comedian and cabaret performer who won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Television Personality in 1976.
Her entertainment career started by chance when a Sydney newspaper published a photo of Jeanne wearing home-made colourful maternity clothes.
The photo was spotted by producers of The Mike Walsh Show, who were desperate to find a replacement for a guest who had dropped out.
Jeanne was an instant hit and went on to become famous for her outrageous outfits, zany humour and her signature catchcry, “Oh, darling.”
When Jeanne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010, Katie says her father wanted to keep it secret for as long as possible.
But as Jeanne’s condition rapidly worsened, the family “fell apart” over the difficult question of whether to put her into fulltime care.
Around the same time, Katie was astonished to find another family secret, this time about her father’s love life prior to meeting her mother.
“Over the last few years, there’ve been a few revelations that have made me rethink my whole family in the world that I grew up in,” she says.
Producer: Ben Cheshire
Monday 1 March at 8pm on ABC TV