Happy Hammond was one of the original Australian children television entertainers. He was known for his high energy and his “test pattern” jacket and hat that might have made your eyes hurt to see in person but worked brilliantly on black and white television.
Happy days are here again!
Happy’s life started out in Sydney, Australia. He was the youngest of three children born to deaf and mute parents. He gained the nickname of “Happy” while he was serving in the army during World War II. He chose to entertain the troops and was transferred to the “Boomerangs” which was the Entertainment Unit that would help keep moral up in combat zones.
After returning from the war Happy worked in radio as the morning host for a number of different radio stations. His earliest television appearance was in 1948 when television was being trailed in Australia.
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The Happy Show started as a radio program on the famous 3UZ. During this time, he partnered up with a fresh upstart by the name of Graham Kennedy. When The Happy Show made the transition to television in 1957, Happy brought Graham with him. It was here that Graham caught the eye of Norman Spencer, and Graham’s career took off.
The early episodes of The Happy Show were only shown in Victoria, but when the show moved from channel 9 to channel 7 in 1960, it gained a bigger audience. The show was a huge success and helped land Happy a program Logie in 1959 and a Logie for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Entertainment in 1962.
One lucky boy, at the time, Mike talks about his experience appearing on The Happy Show on the televisionau.com website:
“I was on the Happy Hammond show twice. As a 5-year-old ( 1960 ) I was picked out of the audience, and I was sat at a table, and somebody asked my name. ” I don’t know ” was my reply. The guy dressed up as a black character scared me. Later on, I was in the audience again, would have been around 1964, I remember the bag of goodies given out at the end of the show, as we lined up and walked past. My brother at home spotted me. Cousin Roy was the country Bumpkin character, and funny face Gordon was there too. I remember Princess Panda being really close to me as they were talking to a kid in the front row. Some kids came out and performed a dance routine, and the music came from speakers on the rear wall. My cousin did a Scottish dance on the show. I also recall the this game, they had a bottle on its side, and a kid had a stick with string, a small loop was on the end of the string, and you had to pick up the bottle and stand it up…
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Ron Barassi and his Bertie Beetle chocolate ads…. all so long ago.”
Graham Kennedy’s career wasn’t the only one launched by Happy as The Happy Show was also where Denise Drysdale and a 16-year-old Olivia Newton-John got their start.
After the cancellation of The Happy Show in 1968, Happy continued to produce children’s programming and other daytime television behind the scenes but would appear on camera for the Royal Children’s Hospitals Good Friday Appeal up until the early 1990s.
Happy sadly passed away in 1998 but his legacy and his contributions to Australian television will last forever.