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hill Kerr in K.A.I , film

ferions acting in bomber-pilot role

is new field for comedian

By

BILL STRUTTON,

in London

BILL KERR as he appears in the film "Appointment in London," in which he successfully plays a serious role. In December, Bill is due to fly to Australia sifter a six weeks'

tour of Korea for a season with Tivoli Theatres.

IAustralian radio star Bill Kerr has landed his first plum

rilish film role. He is the Australian pilot hero of a new Royal ¡r Force drama, "Appointment in London."

IjlO- STARS are Dirk

Li Bogarde. Ian Hunter, (mah Sheridan, and {ryan Forbes,

ijfeady London Films are nthusiastic about Bill's per amanee as a happy-go-lucky ojtitnt Australian bomber ¡lot typical of the Australian innen who flew on operations rom England with English

men, Canadians, and Ameri- cans in World War II.

It proves one important thing for Bill Kerr. He can do more than set the nation laughing as the drawling, pes- simistic boy from Wagga Wagga who comes to the microphone and says dismally, "I've only got four minutes," and then sets about frighten- ing the life out of his audi

-"--.-.-.--?--i

ence by musing on what might happen if the theatre caught on fire or if the dress circle collapsed and fell down on to

the stalls.

It is this witty line of misery that has shot Bill Kerr to the

top as a radio and music-hall

favorite.

Now in his first big film he is showing that he can fly through a straight part, too.

On the set at Shepperton converted into a replica of an old English pub crammed with airmen from a nearby field-Bill Kerr, dressed in the blue uniform of the Royal Australian Air Force, said: "This is a break I owe to Peter Finch.

"It's the third time Peter has put ¡ri a good word for

me over here. The first time

was when he got me a part in the stage production of 'Pommy.' Then he whis- pered in somebody's ear about me for a small part in 'The

Wooden Horse.'

"Finally, when he found he wouldn't be able to play this part in 'Appointment in Lon- don,' he persuaded them to test me for it.

"Peter and I have been pals ever since we toured to- gether with Army Amenities during the war.

"There's a mild prejudice

to overcome which confronts

every Australian actor who comes to London to work.

You have to persuade them that, if necessary, you can talk without the ghost of an Australian accent. Though

all our actors can do this as a matter of course, producers are chary and take a little convincing before casting us for straight English parts."

Australian actors Lloyd Lambie and Don Sharpe also have parts as fliers in tbis new Britisb air film.

This is not Bill Kerr's first film experience.

He had the villain's part in "My Death Is a Mockery," made last year. In Australia he played child parts in "The Silence of Dean Maitland," "Harmony Row," and "His Royal Highness," when they hung the tag "Australia's Jackie Coogan" on him.

As a child he had a very good grounding in show busi- ness. He toured in tent shows with Coles' Varieties. His star

.turn, he says, was a precocious song-and-dance act - "you know, funny hat, baggy pants, little cane. I think I must have been a very ob-

noxious child."

Bill comes from show folk. "My mother, Anne Roberts, was well-known for her songs at the piano-Sophie Tucker sort of style.

"My grandfather was Pro- fessor Roberts, who ran a Dan- cing Academy in Phillip St., Sydney, and in Collins St., Melbourne. Even as a child I did a lot of radio work in

Australia, mostly with the

A.B.C."

In December Bill Kerr will

fly home to Australia after a

six weeks' concert tour of : Korea.

The manner of his home- ¡ coming will be very different i from the way he left, in 1946,

to make his name abroad.

"Margaret (his wife) and I had only enough money be

tween us for one ticket. So I worked my way over as a

steward."

He grinned. "After my per- formance in serving my first meal at sea, they rushed me up on deck and gave me a

bucket. For the rest of the

voyage I swabbed decks!"

Margaret, his pretty blonde wife, is running a dress-de- signing business in the heart of fashionable Knightsbridge.

In Australia Bill Kerr is to do a season for the Tivoli, with a guest spot in each of the cr.pital cities-and probably some radio work, too. He con- fessed, "I'm rather scared about my radio act out home.

"What is a novelty to the British audiences might be

old stuff for our own folk. I'll probably have to think up something a bit different. How about if I did a complete turnabout and did something frightfully blah?" He grinned at the idea.

He'll think up something. It was this gift that gave him his first big break in England

and made Australia's Bill Kerr

-who really does come from Wagga Wagga - a favorite hugely in demand for radio and variety.

Currently there are plans

to star Bill in a radio series with "Cheerful Charlie Ches-

ter," who is a big hit in Eng-

land. The idea is that Bill is to

be the contrast - the gloomy guy of the team.

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