by Louis H. Clark
VERY few people realise the
magnificent job being done by the 1 Australian Army Entertainment.
Its members are fully-trained sol- diers as well as entertainers. Re- cently one of the groups, "Tas maniacs," under the capable direc- tion of Lieutenant Benton, were men- tioned in dispatches for fine work
These men, entertaining day and night, took their turn at sentry-go when the Jap menace threatened.
The core of this army entertain- ment group is at National Studios, Pagewood, NSW. Here, ably super- vised by the popular Major Jim Davidson (ABC dance band leader), groups train, rehearse and are re- fitted and sent to forward areas, where their sparkling messages of cheer are delivered to the boys.
Recently the "straight" section (legits) put on "French Without
Tears" and "While the Sun Shines."
It was no wonder that the cast took six curtain calls when such per- sonalities as John Storr and Peter Finch lent their talents.
One can take a group of Diggers
at random from this entertainment unit and find an array of genius. Prank Coghlan (voted one of the best five trumpets in the world), Grant Taylor (of "Rats of Tobruk" fame), Smoky Dawson (Australian outback songster), Colin Croft (youth show impresario) ; "Robbie," Jim Robert- son, and "Happy," Ronald Apps, two tap-dancing dynamos; Jack Gunn, wizard of Australia's most unique
instrument, the "honkorchestra" (a
musical instrument of assorted motor
There are also lesser stars, new on the horizon of fame. Make a note of them now, for soon you will see them going places. Paul O'Brien (24) is a retiring sort of lad, and it was difficult to get his story from him. Paul is a mimic and impres- sionist. He was born at Mudgee, NSW, where, as a bare-footed coun- try schoolboy, he would mimic all the bird cries as he snailed along the old bush track on his way to school. He settled down to run a service station, but admiring friends urged him to compete in Australia's Amateur Hour. In 1941 he did so, and won by 2,000 votes. Offers fol- lowed, and Paul, still the retiring lad of old, earned no small fame with the records of sound effects he made for radio and films.
Bird fanciers and naturalists throughout Victoria and NSW state that they could not distinguish be- tween Paul's imitation of thrushes,
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kookaburras, wag-tails, grass parrots and canaries, and the real thing.
If Paul hears a sound, within a few minutes, by the combined use of tongue, teeth, cheeks, lips and hands, he has a perfect reproduc- tion. He is a veteran of New Guinea, Bougainville, and Emaru. His Donald Duck, Pop-eye, horses galloping and a host of other renderings have rocked soldier audiences through- out the entire battle area. Paul smiled when he told me of an oc- currence in New Guinea. Imitating a cat fight, Paul had to retire to the top of a near-by piano to escape a horde of native mongrels that stormed the stage.
Another young lad here destined for the big lights is Cpl (soon to be Sgt) Louis Carr (22). Old theatre- goers will remember his Godmother, the famous stage-star Ada Beeves.
Lou specialises in harmonica ex- traordinaries. His own arrangement of "Bumble Bee" is magnificent. He
: MEN ANO WOMEN
OF THE SERVICES
These pases are reserved for ? yarns from members of th« Navy, < Army and Air Force. Service lire , i offers unlimited scope for stories, ,, grave and gay. After all these
Írears of war men and women of _ he Services must have material
for some grand stories we would all like to hear.
The incidents of everyday life In camps, battle stations and the 1 fighting front are of absorbing in . i terest to others. Why not have a
shot at writing up some of your n reminiscences or pet yarns? We
pay £1/1/ for the article which , achieves "The Front Line." Ail
other stories will be paid for, 5/ ' ' being the minimum rate.
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has played the part of comic "feed" to famous Australian comedians. In England some years ago he was billed with Gracie Fields, who pre- dicted a great future for him.
At present Lou is the colour of a very yellow Chinaman. The ater- brin he took on his last venture into New Guinea has not worn off. He is going back next month with one of the newly-formed Troubadour
These intimate little insights into the lives and doings of our own boys is given you in the hope that it will bring you a little closer to your own Australian talent.