Gee, An Old Tv Character Is Going, Going ...

The Age

Thursday November 12, 1998

CAROLYN WEBB

Gerry Gee's chiselled features have been around as long as television stalwarts Brian Naylor, Bert Newton and Denise Drysdale.

Gerry, the first variety act to appear on TV in Melbourne in 1956 - televised from a room below the Mt Dandenong transmitter before the GTV studios opened - has made us laugh and cringe ever since. And he's not even human.

Now that his master of 42 years, ventriloquist Ron Blaskett, has retired, Gerry Gee is to be sold at auction later this month.

Mr Blaskett, 76, gave his final performance last year after a chest illness hampered his routines. His son, Peter, 40, has followed in his father's footsteps, but has his own doll, Gerry Gee II.

Mr Blaskett felt an auction was the fairest way to sell his old wooden mate. ``Gerry was in a suitcase in the garage and there's not much point in that ... I'll be glad to see somebody who can value him get him," he said. ``After 60-odd years of performing for charity, I'm not capable now. One antique around the house is enough, and that's me! I'd rather see him out there and perhaps on public display."

Mr Blaskett now spends his time identifying and cataloguing 46,000 pictures of radio and television identities and events at the Performing Arts Museum's archives.

``It's a huge job, but ... I started in radio in 1936, so I'm able to identify a lot of the people."

At the auction, Peter Blaskett will bring a Gerry Gee junior toy to sit next to the auctioneer and, voiced by a radio system, entertain the audience between bids.

The Leonard Joel director, Mr Warren Joel, said the sale price of Gerry, who is about a metre tall and was made in Chicago, had been set at between $10,000 to $15,000, but it could easily sell for more than twice that.

``It's a very difficult one to value because I've got nothing to compare it to," Mr Joel said.

``You couldn't get much more of a collector's item or one-off."

He said he hoped the Government would buy Gerry for the Performing Arts Museum.

The auction will be at Leonard Joel's South Yarra auction rooms at noon on 30 November.

© 1998 The Age

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