Queenie Paul OAM 1893-1982
Queenie took television in her stride. She was a frequent guest on Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, The Don Lane Show and The Mike Walsh Show.
Ignoring severe chest pains, she fulfilled an engagement at Newtown Leagues Club on 29 July 1982. She died of a heart attack two days later.
It was Harry Wren who brought her back to Australia for his spectacular nostalgic revue Thanks
for the Memory. It opened at the Princess in Melbourne 3 October 1953 with a cast headed by George Wallace, Jim Gerald and Queenie Paul. In fact, Queenie created the whole nostalgic juggernaut, drawing on her flair, expertise and years of experience, though, many years later, she admitted, ‘I must have been a crotchety old bitch as a producer.’
Queenie remained with Wren as resident producer for his Celebrity Circuit, and her son, Paul became stage director. After a series of revues at the Palladium – the old Haymarket again – Wren staged The Good Old Days in 1956, with Queenie, George Wallace, Jim Gerald, Maurice Colleano and Jenny Howard. At least 500,000 people saw it as it toured Australia and New Zealand. Wren’s third nostalgia extravaganza was 1959’s Many Happy Returns, with Queenie, Gladys Moncrieff, Jim Gerald, Jenny Howard and George Wallace Jnr.
Queenie took television in her stride. She was a frequent guest on Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, The Don Lane Show and The Mike Walsh Show and in 1965 had a featured role in a quirky 13-episode musical series called Dave’s Place. Then she found an entirely new career singing old-time favourites in Sydney hotels and clubs. On 26 March 1966 she was in the royal box to farewell the theatre she had resuscitated in 1932 and had renamed the Tivoli. In 1977 she had the unnerving experience of seeing herself portrayed by Gloria Dawn in the Nimrod production of Steve J. Spears’ Young Mo. The following year she was honoured on This Is Your Life. She also released a cassette of some of her most asked-for numbers. The proceeds benefited the United Nations Association of Australia. In 1982 her services to theatre were rewarded with the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Queenie Paul never retired. Ignoring severe chest pains, she fulfilled an engagement at Newtown Leagues Club on 29 July 1982. She died of a heart attack two days later. She was 88. Her children were also involved in show business: Celestine McDermott sang for some years on the Tivoli Circuit, and Paul managed St Kilda’s popular Palais de Danse.
Frank Van Straten, 2007
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Victoria Chance: ‘Queenie Paul’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
Frank Van Straten: Tivoli, Lothian Books, 2003
Frank Van Straten: ‘Connors and Paul – Two of the Best’, in Tivoli Follies, unpublished manuscript, 1999