Sadly, with passing of each generation, the memory of the stars of that generation is lost. Even today, if we mention the likes of Jack Davey, Bob Dyer, Mo and many others their names would be recalled by only a few. Yet in their day, thousands would come just to get a glimpse of them.
With this and ensuing features, we would like to recall some of the greats of the Golden Age of Australian Radio. This feature will include the actors, producers and even the shows and today's feature is
The Man with A Thousand Voices
How can a man in his med forties, a little portly, balding and with a stammer in normal speech be on of Australian Radio's biggest superstars of the 1930's through to his death in the 1950's ? Yet this was the case.. I refer to George Edwards
The Early Years
George Edwards was born Henry Parks on March 11,1886 in Kent Town South Australia. From an early age his passion was acting and the theatre. He had the knack of mimicry and the story goes that in his early teens he was able to convince an angry neighbour to return a ball by using George's fathers' voice.
As soon as he could he left school and spent all his time and money purchasing theatrical items such makeup etc as well as going to the theatre. Also he joined an amateur theatrical group and was in many plays. By 18 he had made a name for himself in amateur theatre as well as a mimic. However, his health "broke down" so his father booked him a passage to England.
It was in England that he got his first professional working for the famous impresario of British theatre, George Edwards. He did theatre all over England as well as Music Hall, for he was also an accomplished dancer and singer.His career did not seem to reach the heights that would come later, as he moved from straight theatre, vaudeville to becoming a dancing instructor.
It was during this period that he changed his name from Harold Parks to George Edwards at the behest of Edward Branscombe who was putting together an up market act did not want anyone who was associated with low brow music hall type acts. So Harold to the name of the famous English impresario
The facts about this period are in question, as the biography's that are about for him were either written by George himself or his brother. Nothing bad seems to have happened. It is known that he was married twice and that his second wife died after an illness, It seems that George took this very hard and had to go to Germany to "take the waters" whether this meant, if we read between the lines, he hit the bottle is not really known.
If we read Richards Lane's book or Sumner Locke Elliot's article in the Bulletin, which the former is in part was based upon, it would seem that in the years prior to 1931/2, George was on the skids and the story goes that he played pie nights and the Showboat a venue that was regarded as the pits for any performer.
Around 1931, it seems, he advertised for a partner and this is where he met Nell Stirling. They became a double act. From here, his fortunes seemed to change. In 1931 George appeared on the ABC in a Saturday variety show doing a ten minute stint . He also, with Nell, performed in department stores