Beloved radio and television star Ernie Sigley dies age 82

Aug 16, 2021
Ernie Sigley had been battling Alzheimer's disease for five years. Source: TV Tonight Australia

Beloved television and radio star Ernie Sigley has died aged 82. The sad news comes five years after the Melbourne-born entertainer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sigley began his long-running career in radio with Melbourne station 3DB, before making his television debut in 1956 as the host of Teenage Mailbag on the Seven Network. The Gold Logie winner hosted his own national variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show, which began in 1974. He was also the original host of game show Wheel of Fortune from 1981 to 1984. In his heyday, Sigley was regarded as one of the best comedians in Aussie entertainment.

Following the sad news, fellow Aussie media personalities have taken to social media to pay tribute.

Neil Mitchell wrote on Twitter: “Vale Ernie Sigley. Each day at two minutes past midday he’d tell me what I’d done wrong, launch into that magnificent giggle, and show me the door. A complex and fascinating character.”

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford tweeted: “Very sad to hear of Ernie Sigley’s death. His unique larrikin style made it look easier than it really is. TV, radio, recording success and live concerts — what a great career! But his greatest pride was his family. He was kind to me so I’ll be sad but honoured to pay tribute today.”

Sigley’s death comes just two years after Denise Drysdale spoke exclusively to Starts at 60 about her friend’s deteriorating condition.

“I haven’t seen him recently but I know that he hasn’t improved, he’s gone downhill a bit,” she said at the time. “It’s sad. I was working on stage with him when it started, and it got to the stage where I couldn’t leave him on stage on his own because he’d go to start a song and then say, ‘I’ve never sung this before’. I just couldn’t bear to watch it, so I said no more shows.”

Denise and Ernie starred in his hit program The Ernie Sigley Show in the 1970s and quickly became household names thanks to their impeccable comedic timing and on-screen chemistry. Their hilarious antics left Aussies in stitches and earned the pair Gold Logies in 1974. Denise won again in 1975.

Sigley is survived by his wife, Glenys and their four children.

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