THE MO STORY: Part 1. His son, Sam, tells it all!

CHANGE-OVER: MO AS ELIZABETH 1 IN THE VIRGIN QUEEN.  Below: MO AND HAL LASHWOOD PASSING ONE ANOTHER IN SYDNEY.  Below: MO PLAYS THE "STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER" WHEN STRAIGHTMAN HAL LASHWOOD LOOKS ON LAUGHING. THE PHOTO: 1947.

The Mo statute is only 32 cm tall and weighs nearly 1500 grams.  He either comes in Gold, Silver or Bronze. For a statue, he stands tall. He is the Mo Award. The Mo was in honour of one of our great entertainers, Roy Mo Rene.

SAM VAN-DER SLUICE   Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

My name is Sam Van-der Sluice. That wouldn’t mean anything to you. But I’m the son of Harry Van-der Sluice. I guess that wouldn’t mean anything to you either. I’m the son of  “MO” -- Roy Rene Mo.

That might mean something to you!

What sort of man was Mo? Harry was born on February 15, 1892, in Hindley Street, Adelaide. He was the son of a English Jewess and a Dutch Jewish cigarmaker. He had two brothers and four sisters.

He started his showbusiness career when he was 14. He used to sing in the gallery in a falsetto voice. In those days, his stage name was Boy Roy, and when his voice broke they said to him you’re getting too old for that now; you’d better call yourself a different name.

“Why don’t you give yourself the name of the famous French clown, Roy Rene,” a stage-hand said. Rene became Roy Rene. Later, a stage door keeper by the name of Bill Sadler claims that he, Sadler, gave him the name of Roy Rene Mo because of his moustache.

The name stuck until years later in radio when he was christened McCackie – Mo McCackie.

So -- Dad started as Harry Van-der Sluice, his real name; Boy Roy, Boy Roy Mo and Mo McCackie. The last three were stage names. As far as the very early years of his showbusiness life was concerned, that is.

THE NAME STUCK

Needless to say, I only knew him as DAD!

We had a lovely life together. My father, my mother, my sister and I lived in a home at Kensington. It was a lovely home: I suppose by today’s standard it was modest; but it was a castle to us and it was dad’s palace.

I remember every time he used to swing into Cottenham Avenue, Kensington, where we lived. After he returned from the Tivoli, he would say to my mother, “Happy Road”. And it was a happy road. He loved all the children and they loved him – despite his moustache!

The family came first and work came second, and I don’t think dad lived for anything else apart from his family and his work. He was happiest when he was doing both – with his family and the stage.

Dad had a love/hate relationship with the audience. He could love them and yet hate them. I remember, he used to say when he got his first “belly” laugh, “I’ve got ‘em, I’ve got ‘em pal!” – and he would get them, too!

HE ADORED HER

The greatest thing that can happen to any performer is when they hear that round of applause. Or when they get that lovely belly laugh, which is so great. There nothing more pathetic when a comedian doesn’t get a laugh.

Dad got most of the laughs.

My mother’s name was quite famous in showbusiness. Her name was Sadie Gale and she had been on the stage since she was three years and four months old. For many, many years, she was a star in her own right.

She retired when my sister Milo and I started high school and she thought that it was the right thing to do and stay home and be a “Mum”.

Up to then she played soubrette roles and principal boys and she was a very beautiful woman. In fact, I think at eighty years, she still is a very beautiful woman.

My father loved her very much. He adored her and anything she did was fine by him.

Sadie Gale gave the Mo Award her blessing and said, “the Awards took on a new shape.” Ingrid Berg, publicity manager of the Mo, said, “The Mo Awards are living proof that Australian talent is not a rarity.” Yes, Rene would been much chuffed at that. Sadie Gale presented the Mo Award for the Entertainer of the Year at the 10th Annual Meeting in 1985. Strike me lucky! – Frank Morris.

Next Week: Sam talks about his famous mother, Sadie Gale.

<< From Grand Years. Adapted from the 8th Annual Mo Award, 1983.


LIVING ALONE: Retirement – a woman can get a mixture of feelings!

DOWN CAME THE RAIN? IT POURED AND IT POURED. AND THEN IT STOPPED. THEN IT POURED AGAIN ALL NIGHT. THEN IN THE MORNING, ITS CLEARED. I JOINED MY VILLA MATES AT THE COFFEE SHOP.

There are times when I get depressed.

ANNE SIMOND*     ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

Living alone in retirement? Anne, who has been retired for five years, discovers that being alone is not the same as being lonely.

“When I was approaching retirement age there was one problem – or stumbling block – which perhaps worries many women, but not me. A man. I didn’t have to worry about ‘my man getting under my feet.’ I don’t have one. I live alone.

“I did think about retirement before the time came, which I consider to be a great advantage. While working and bringing up my children single-handed, there were many things that I had neglected. Since then I have managed to make amends in some spheres.

“I find I quite enjoy splashing around with wallpapers, brush and paint. And there’s no one to laugh about the fact that sometimes I get almost as much paint on myself as on the doors and window frames!,” Anne said.

Her role was to become part of the tribe that went to evening classes in English, which might have annexes that flow from that. Anne took to writing for pleasure.

THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE

“I’ve now have written at least 200 poems and have about 80 published in various journals,” said Anne. “Then I found delight in experimenting with some exotic cookery recipes to the advantage of a few clubs in the area. Next, I turned to one of the loves of my youth – music.

“I was pleased to find that the theory and sight-reading hadn’t left me entirely. And no neighbour had yet complained about the few scales and five-finger exercises which I found necessary. If I do find myself getting a little depressed, I find playing my piano really lifts my blues!

“I don’t believe that ‘such and such years’ are the best years of our lives. No one can know this. It’s up to us all, individually; and each stage had its compensations, both financial and otherwise. In retirement, reduced bus and rail fares, visits to cinemas and theatres are a great boon.

“Guilt about neglecting friends and relatives living some distance away has now left me. I’m in touch with them again. The numerous emails I receive, and the replying to them, gives me quite a kick.

“Before my retirement, I never had time to write!,” Anne said.

<< Living alone in your retirement; Best Years Newsletter; March, 2010.

*Not the correct name

Next week: l0 tips for living alone.

Pictures: Backpacking. At 72-year-old, our newest friend in the villa is skirting around the world for 12 months as a last hurrah. Catching up. I look for Skype to catch up to my relatives and friends.

The name has been changed.

<< Best Years Newsletter, 2010.                                   


Let’s Laugh! Your tool kit will say: don’t take it with you!

Increasingly, you are one of the people who own their home. This can be a great comfort to you that you are safe from rising rents. The mortgage is paid off and the house is yours. But then you find other problems arising. You are getting older. Maintenance on a house keeps rising. Even the routine decoration jobs are expensive. Let’s face it, you have to pay somebody else to do them because you are not as agile as you used to be. You don’t need roller skates. After a lifetime of working hard, the old habits die hard. Join the throng that are going the right way. Go to a reliable accountant and he or she will explain the ‘right way’ of doing things.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 13 April 18

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