Australia went into mourning last night following the death of much-loved entertainer Jeanne Little, renowned for her catchphrase ‘Hello Darlings’.
Jeanne’s daughter Katie Little revealed her mother’s death on social media.
“My mother has left the earthly plane. This is a huge shock – but I’m so grateful. Love you all my friends. Cheers Mum, to all the fun times.”
Jeanne began her entertainment career on The Mike Walsh Show in 1974. She caught Mike’s attention when she opened a Sydney fashion boutique. A talented seamstress, Jeanne could run up a dress out of anything — and she did.
Potato chips, garbage bags, dollar coins and slices of burnt toast were all assembled into stunning ensembles. Jeanne out-Gaga-ed Gaga decades before Lady Gaga’s birth. Because of her talent for sewing, Jeanne’s outfits took on the appearance of haute couture, whatever their origins.
In her book Hello Darling!, Jeanne ascribed her fashion sense to hanging around drag queens in her youth.
“Gay guys always loved that I looked vibrant and when I was taken along to a drag show, I thought, if that is what boys can look like, what am I doing looking so boring? I was so influenced by drag shows as they were so clever and inventive…
“One of the things I admired about drag queens… They were so badly treated, but they still got up and did the shows and just kept going — and still looked fabulous.”
With her wigs and long lashes, Jeanne Little exuded a diva sensibility that kept all eyes on her. But she was so much more than a quirky clothes horse. The woman was personality plus and became an instant hit with television audiences. Her catchphrase ‘Hello Darlings’ became one of Australia’s most repeated expressions.
Jeanne Little was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining presences to ever grace an Australian television screen. She could converse on any subject with outrageous humour, but never an unkind word. She based her humour on self-deprecation and often joked about everything long-suffering husband Barry endured from her.
In addition to television, the Gold Logie winning entertainer also later embarked on a successful stage career. She first took to the stage in Jerry’s Girls and later appeared at the Sydney Opera House in Legends. She toured her one-woman tribute to Marlene Deitrich, Marlene, around Australia and the US.
After losing over 50 friends to AIDS, Jeanne Little gave generously of her time and talent to AIDS charities, travelling all over Australia to help raise funds.
Jeanne Little died aged 82 in the nursing home where she resided since her diagnosis for rapid-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009. Her husband Barry lived in the same facility until his death last year.
Jeanne Little RIP. Thank you for everything.
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