BACK IN THE DAY: Dr Roslyn Dunbar-Wells with Gladys Moncrieff.
BACK IN THE DAY: Dr Roslyn Dunbar-Wells with Gladys Moncrieff. Crystal Jones

When radio airwaves and Gladys Moncrieff ruled

SHOWS like Australian Idol and X Factor might seem like a modern invention, but flash back to the 1950s and you'll find the idea isn't so new after all.

Gold Coast woman Roslyn Dunbar-Wells remembers winning a radio talent series back in 1954 which was hosted by none other than Bundaberg's Gladys Moncrieff.

Living in Sydney at the time, the 17-year-old singer entered the The Macquarie Broadcasting Service President Starmaker Show and came out on top.

"I was the female one who won the series," Mrs Dunbar-Wells said.

Ros Dunbar-Wells and Leonie Egan with a portrait of Gladys Moncrieff.
Ros Dunbar-Wells and Leonie Egan with a portrait of Gladys Moncrieff.

"I was one of her proteges."

A male finalist was also chosen.

According to an advert for the radio talent quest in a July 1954 edition of the Australian Women's Mirror, the show played out on radios across the country from 8.30pm every Monday.

The ad reads: "Australia's queen of song Gladys Moncrieff presents five potential stars of tomorrow. At the conclusion of the program their performances are judged by the audience in the Macquarie Auditorium, who vote in their order of preference. The winner is then invited to appear the following week, and any artist winning three successive programs will receive the £100 President Award to help him or her further their career."

OUR GLAD: A radio advert from the July 14, 1954 edition of The Australian Women's Mirror featuring Bundaberg songstress Gladys Moncrieff.
OUR GLAD: A radio advert from the July 14, 1954 edition of The Australian Women's Mirror featuring Bundaberg songstress Gladys Moncrieff.

Mrs Dunbar-Wells said she came to know Gladys well and remembered many fond things about the songstress.

"She was wonderful, she used to get very nervous, but once she got behind the microphone she was fine," she said.

Mrs Dunbar-Wells said of all the things Gladys taught her, being gracious stood out the most.

"She was unassuming and gracious," she said.

"She knew how to persevere, she also taught me to persevere."

Mrs Dunbar-Wells remembers Gladys waving to cruise ships on the Gold Coast who came by just to see her.

"I knew her very well," she said.

"I even made her book."

Mrs Dunbar-Wells said she had enjoyed a long career in classical singing.

"I've sung all over the world," she said, adding that as a youngster she would star in radio plays as the voice of young boys before going on to perform in the London Coliseum and working for the ABC.

TALENT REMEMBERED: Leonie Egan is setting up a Gladys Moncrieff foundation.
Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
TALENT REMEMBERED: Leonie Egan is setting up a Gladys Moncrieff foundation. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN280515GLADYS4

On a mission for our Glad

OUR Glad Association's Leonie Egan doesn't want the songstress forgotten.

Mrs Egan is working to form a committee, put on a talent show and give Gladys a permanent museum in the region.

"Just like the Hinkler centre, I want to set up something like that. It's really for tourism for Bundaberg," she said.

Mrs Egan said the Bundy-born star was often mistaken for an opera singer, but actually sang operetta - similar to the style of Julie Andrews.

Singing in English, she said, was no easy feat, and Gladys mastered it compared to languages like Italian, popular with opera singers.

"Gladys was an expert at singing English - she sang like a bird," Mrs Egan said.

A plaque has been unveiled at Bundaberg's former Queen's Theatre , where Gladys first sang as a child.

A function to mark what would have been Gladys Moncrieff's 125th birthday will be held on April 12 from 6pm at the U3A Rooms on Woongarra St.

Mrs Egan said she was alsointerested in hearing from anyone interested in attending the event, or who may have memories or memorabilia to share.

Phone her on 0450 521 512 or email leonie.egan@eganservices.com.
 

 

OUR GLAD: A radio advert from the July 14, 1954 edition of The Australian Women's Mirror featuring Bundaberg songstress Gladys Moncrieff.
OUR GLAD: A radio advert from the July 14, 1954 edition of The Australian Women's Mirror featuring Bundaberg songstress Gladys Moncrieff.

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