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Zig and Zag (Australian performers)

Jack Perry (1917 – c. April 2006) and Douglas "Doug" McKenzie (22 March 1918 – 4 August 2004) — were an entertainer duo from Melbourne who were known and billed professionally as the clown act, Zig and Zag. They appeared on Australian television from its inception in 1956 to 1999 beginning with Peters Fun Fair (1956–69). They featured on the annual Moomba parade (a community festival), and were regulars at annual charity events including the Good Friday Appeal for the Royal Children's Hospital. Perry was also an actor on television serials and presenter whilst McKenzie, was also a radio and television presenter and producer and former soldier. In March 1999 the duo permanently parted company after it was revealed that Jack Perry had been convicted in 1994 of indecent assault on his granddaughter.

Zig and Zag
Two sets of colour photos. The clown act, in make-up, are shown at left; they are standing. The performers, without make-up, at right, are seated. The first photo has an eighty year old man wearing a cylindrical shaped hat which is mostly striped in red and white and has the sponsor's logo in white print on a black oval. He holds a banjo and wears a red and white polka dot bow tie, a blue coat with his name printed in red on his top left. The second eighty year old man has his left hand raised in a wave and wears a light blue conical hat with dark blue stripes. The sponsor's name is at the rim on top of his blonde curly wig. He wears a dark blue kerchief, with white polka dots, tied above his shirt. The shirt has large orange circles on white background with his name in red on his top left. His pants show white and green stripes held by a large black button. In the second photo the first man again holds a banjo; he wears a dark suit coat with a dark tie and a light-coloured shirt. The second man wears a light blue and white striped shirt.
Zig and Zag, Jack Perry (left) and Doug McKenzie, 1998
MediumTelevision, radio
NationalityAustralian
Years active1956 (1956)–1999 (1999)
GenresClown, slapstick
Notable works and rolesPeters Fun Fair
Former members
  • Doug McKenzie
  • Jack Perry
Doug McKenzie
Born
Douglas McKenzie

(1918-03-22)22 March 1918
Gloucester, England
Died4 August 2004(2004-08-04) (aged 86)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Other namesZag
OccupationComedian, soldier, TV and radio presenter, TV producer
Years active1939–1999
Known forZig and Zag
Jack Perry
Born1917
London, England
DiedApril 2006 (aged c. 89)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Other namesZig
OccupationComedian, TV presenter and actor
Years active1956–1999
Known forZig and Zag

Contents

HistoryEdit

Zig and Zag were the clown duo of Jack Perry and Doug McKenzie; they began performing together in the 1950s in Melbourne.[1] Before 1939 McKenzie was a junior announcer on Melbourne radio station, then known as 3XY.[2] By 1952, he was voicing advertisements dressed as a clown with a young Bert Newton. This led to Zig and Zag regularly appearing on a Saturday morning children's show hosted by Frank Thring,[3] alongside Newton and disc jockey, Stan Rofe. The clown duo first worked on their own show on 3XY's Tye's Radio Revue on Sundays and Peters Town Hall Show on Thursdays.[4] In March 1956 they drove a toy car at their first Moomba parade and were crowd favourites at the annual festival.[3]

On 10 November 1956 local TV station HSV7 broadcast the first episode of Peters Fun Fair, with the duo as its stars in the first children's session televised in Australia.[5] They dressed in costumes advertising Peters Ice Cream, with the slogan, "the health food of a nation", and used the catchphrase, "No-o-o trouble". Zig and Zag added their theme song, "You and Me", to their act in the late 1950s. It was written by Tommy Steele and was originally performed by Steele and Jimmy Edwards in the 1958 London pantomime production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Peters Fun Fair also featured Roy Lyons as Cousin Roy, and continued for 13 years.

To the TV generation of impressionable children, they are remembered as the slightly naughty duo who broke the King Street Bridge: after a structural failure in July 1962 they filmed a segment for their show where they dropped a coconut and pretended to crack the bridge, albeit accidentally.[6] Zig and Zag also appeared on the annual HSV7 Good Friday Appeal, a telethon for Royal Children's Hospital, for more than forty years.[3]

In February 1999, Zig and Zag were named as Moomba Monarchs, a festival that they had been associated with for 44 years, but they were stood down before being crowned in March. Revelations of Perry's indecent assaults on his granddaughter, from his 1994 trial, were broadcast on current affairs show Today Tonight.[3][7] Since the duo's act was always aimed at children, it was irreparably ruined, and after the scandal, McKenzie never spoke to Perry again.[8]

MembersEdit

Doug McKenzieEdit

 
Doug McKenzie, former Changi P.O.W., November 1945. He is holding a mock version of the Melbourne Cup.

Douglas McKenzie (Zag) was born on 22 March 1918 in Gloucester, England.[9] He later recalled that his father was "in heavy drama, graduated to producing, and finally wrote his own shows."[4] His mother, Violet (née Viola Rene), was a soprano; the couple toured as a pantomime act and visited New Zealand before settling in Australia.[4]

McKenzie enlisted in the Australian Army on 12 July 1940 during World War II and became a prisoner of war at Changi after the fall of Singapore in September 1942.[10][11][12] As a corporal, McKenzie, and another prisoner, Bill West, annually ran a mock version of the Melbourne Cup in the prison by using bull frogs.[12] In 1942 his frog, Greenbottle, won the mock cup trophy: made of cardboard, which McKenzie cherished upon return to Australia in 1945 (see photo opposite).[12] He was discharged on 17 January 1946.[10]

Whilst appearing on-air as Zag, he also produced many programs for HSV7, including Club 7, Hold Everything and Junior Jamboree.[2] In 2002 McKenzie was the inaugural recipient of Variety's Heart of Show Business Award. Doug Christie, chairman of Variety, the children's charity, said that McKenzie was awarded for his long service to "Melbourne's entertainment industry and his commitment to children's charity". McKenzie died on 4 August 2004, aged 86.[13]

Jack PerryEdit

Jack Perry (Zig) was born in 1917. During World War II he worked for Sutton Tool & Gauge, which was listed as "essential services" and so he did not enlist in the armed forces.[1] After the war he turned to radio and, for 20 weeks, worked on 3UZ's Are You an Artist?.[4] He later worked as an adult comedian at coffee lounges.[4] By May 1958 he was married with three children.[4]

Perry made many TV appearances outside his clown character, including as an actor in drama series such as Homicide, Division 4 (1970), Matlock Police (1971) and Prisoner (in nine episodes from 1979 to 1985). He had a supporting role in the feature film, Dimboola (1979). Perry appeared in the 1997 TV series, State Coroner. In November 2006, it was reported that Perry had died in April, aged around 88-89, with furniture marked "Heritage" and "Once belonged to Zig the Clown" being sold by the Salvation Army's South Melbourne store. His vintage Peters Ice Cream cylindrical hat was held at Australian Centre for the Moving Image museum, in Federation Square, it apparently dates back to the 1950s[8][14]

Child abuse scandalEdit

In March 1999 Zig and Zag stood down from the Moomba festival after they had been announced as Moomba Monarchs. It was disclosed that, in 1994, at Heidelberg Magistrates' Court, Perry had "pleaded guilty to seven counts of unlawful indecent assault against his granddaughter", Debra Clark, which had occurred "from the age of 12, between 1979 and 1981, while she lived with her grandparents".[15] In 1999 other allegations of indecent assault of children also surfaced.[16] Clark revealed that she had been indecently assaulted, by Perry, during an interview with Tracee Hutchison on television current affairs show, Today Tonight[17] just before Perry (as Zig) with McKenzie (as Zag), were due to be crowned.[18] The Moomba committee was devastated, and announced that there would be no replacement for the duo.[3][7] Subsequent festivals had no monarch until 2010 when singer, Kate Ceberano, and music commentator, Molly Meldrum, were announced as Queen and King of Moomba respectively.[3][19]

In 2011 allegations of paedophilia against Roy Lyons dating back to the 1960s were revealed by Derryn Hinch.[20][21]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Doughty, David; Bowen, Caryl. "Zig and Zag". Australian Stories. Archived from the original on 4 August 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b "McKenzie, Doug: Interviewer Unknown, Record No. 307851" (PDF). Oral History Sound Recordings – Radio – A Guide to the National Screen and Sound Archive Collection. ScreenSound Australia. April 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bellamy, Craig; Chisholm, Gordon; Eriksen, Hilary (17 February 2006). "Moomba: A festival for the people" (PDF). pp. 17–22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Zig and Zag Are Funny all the Time". TV-Radio Week. 7 May 1958. pp. 24–7. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via David Doughty.
  5. ^ "Headlines from Then". The History of Australian Television. Television.au. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  6. ^ O'Connor, Angela (6 August 2004). "Goodbye to Zag". The Age.
  7. ^ a b Leitenmaier, Caroline Jean (27 March 2017). "Zig & Zag". Toorak Times. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Direct from the House of Zig". The Age. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  9. ^ "NameSearch: Item details for: B883, VX35119". National Archives of Australia. 13 September 2002. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  10. ^ a b "WW2 Nominal Roll – Certificate for Douglas McKenzie". Department of Veteran's Affairs. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Friends and family turn out for Zag's funeral". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 9 August 2004. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Light hearts for first peacetime Melbourne Cup". The Australian Women's Weekly. 3 November 1945. p. 17. Retrieved 23 January 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "TV clown Zag dies". The Age. Australian Associated Press (AAP). 5 August 2004. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  14. ^ Money, Lawrence; Carbone, Suzanne (16 November 2006). "Hats Off". The Age. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  15. ^ Costa, Gabrielle G (6 March 1999). "Zig Sex History Unseats Monarchs". The Age. p. 1.
  16. ^ Congdon, K (10 March 1999). "Third Child Molest Claim Against Zig". Herald Sun. p. 15.
  17. ^ The Girl Who Killed Moomba at Tracee Hutchison's web page. Accessed 22 January 2014
  18. ^ de Souza, Poppy. "Footscray 1971 (1971)". Australia's audiovisual heritage online. Screen Australia (National Film and Sound Archive). Retrieved 25 March 2011. Note: Includes a film clip of the suburb of Footscray with a live performance by Zig and Zag at end of the footage.
  19. ^ Barry, Evonne (16 February 2010). "Molly Meldrum and Kate Ceberano the new king and queen of Moomba". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  20. ^ "Hinch Says", 13 May 2011 Archived 17 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Clowning Around with Bastards" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 3AW

External linksEdit