They famously starred together on The Ernie Sigley Show in the 1970s, forging a friendship that would last decades later and see them through several more joint television and theatre appearances.
Denise Drysdale, 72, has now paid tribute to her former co-star in a heartfelt statement. Sigley sadly passed away on Sunday, August 15 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.
“We’ve lost one of the all-time greats of Australian TV and radio today,” Drysdale said in a statement to the Herald Sun.
“Ernie Sigley was one of a kind. He was enormously generous to me. In fact, if it wasn’t for Ernie, I doubt that my career would have turned out the way it did. He always just let me be myself and that is the greatest gift of all.
“I will cherish the memories of all the mischief we got up to together. He still makes me laugh just thinking about him. Love and respect, dear Ernie. Vale Ernie Sigley.”
Denise and Ernie starred in his hit program The Ernie Sigley Show in the ’70s 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.
Sigley’s death comes just two years after 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.”
Describing her final visit to the star in 2018, she said: “When I went to see him I sung the whole of ‘Hey Paula’, and he stood there and looked at me and got emotional. Then he gave me a big hug, so there was some recognition at that stage, but then I sat on the chair and he said, ‘God you remind me of somebody’.
“I said, ‘Oh I’m Delvene Delaney’, and he said, ‘No, no not her’! And I said, ‘Denise Drysdale’? and he said, ‘Yes, yes, that’s who you remind me of’.”