Emotional scenes as entertainment icon John Blackman farewelled in moving funeral service

Jun 24, 2024
Joining mourners were Blackman's Hey Hey It's Saturday co-stars Wilbur Wilde, Red Symonds, Livinia Nixon and host Daryl Somers who were presented the iconic Dickie Knee puppet by Blackman's wife, Cecile. Source: Getty Images.

Friends, family and colleagues gathered in Melbourne on Sunday, June 23 to bid farewell to Hey Hey It’s Saturday star John Blackman and honour his legacy in the entertainment industry.

Blackman’s passing at the age of 76 was announced on Wednesday, June 5, much to the shock of fans and those close to him.

Joining mourners were Blackman’s Hey Hey It’s Saturday co-stars Wilbur Wilde, Red Symonds, Livinia Nixon and host Daryl Somers who were presented the iconic Dickie Knee puppet by Blackman’s wife, Cecile.

Somers was among those who paid tribute to Blackman during the emotional service, telling those gathered that he “was so wonderful” and “saw humour in everything”.

Veteran 3AW presenter Philip Brady spoke of his enduring friendship with Blackman and the “many laughs” he shared with him over the years.

“I’ll be forever grateful to John for the humour he brought into our lives. He really enriched our lives and we are poorer for his passing,” he said.

At the time of Blackman’s death, Channel 7 entertainment reporter Peter Ford was among the first to share the unfortunate news with the Australian public on The Morning Show, stating that “Australia is a sadder place” following his passing.

“John was an incredible man. In the past years, he has put up a huge cancer fight,” Ford said.

“He was a beautiful performer on radio and television, in recent years, of course, he’s put up this incredible cancer fight.”

In a testament to Blackman’s talent and enduring legacy in the entertainment industry, a sea of tributes poured in from across the country with many sharing their favourite memories of the star.

The overwhelming response from fans and colleagues was hardly surprising given Blackman’s impressive career in the entertainment industry.

Blackman began his stellar career in 1969 at 2GN Goulburn, serving as an announcer, newsreader, copywriter, salesman, and record librarian. In 1970, he moved to 2CA Canberra, working various on-air shifts until mid-1971, when he joined 3AW in Melbourne. There, he became known for his work on Nightline.

In 1974, Blackman hosted the morning show on 3AK before moving to Sydney in 1975 to join 2UE as a “floating” announcer. Concurrently, he worked as a staff continuity announcer and daytime newsreader at TCN-9 Sydney while contributing to Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

It was his work with Hey Hey It’s Saturday that cemented his legacy, with his voice work and comedic timing making Dickie Knee a beloved character and a staple of Australian television.

Returning to Melbourne in 1979, Blackman hosted the breakfast show on 3AK until 1981, then moved to 3AW to co-host the breakfast show with Paul Barber, and later, Bruce Mansfield. This partnership dominated the ratings for five years.

After leaving 3AW in 1986, Blackman joined the CBC Network experiment, followed by a stint at 3UZ from 1987 to 1990. He returned to radio in 1997 as a co-host of the 3AK breakfast show until 2000, and later joined Triple M Adelaide, co-hosting the breakfast show until 2007.

Blackman’s television appearances included Blankety Blanks, Personality Squares, The Paul Hogan Show, The Daryl Somers Tonight Show, Holiday Island, and Family Feud. He was also featured on ABC’s Talking Heads in 2006.

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