Cathy Wayne

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Cathy Wayne
Cathy Wayne.jpg
Cathy Wayne publicity shot
Background information
Birth nameCatherine Anne Warnes
Born(1949-12-07)7 December 1949
Arncliffe, New South Wales, Australia
Died20 July 1969(1969-07-20) (aged 19)
Da Nang, Vietnam
Genrespop, rock
Occupation(s)singer, dancer
Years active1965–1969
Associated actsCol Joye, Sweethearts on Parade

Cathy Wayne was the stage name of Australian entertainer Catherine Anne Warnes (7 December 1949 – 20 July 1969) who was killed during the Vietnam War at a United States Marine base.[1][2][3][4] Wayne had just finished a song at a Non-commissioned officer's club near Da Nang in South Vietnam.[2][3] She was shot by a bullet fired from a .22 pistol, fitted with a silencer, which had been stolen at the base.[5] Wayne was the first Australian woman killed during the Vietnam War.[1][2]

Sergeant James Wayne Killen was originally convicted of the unpremeditated murder of Wayne; at his first court-martial it was alleged that he was aiming for his commanding officer, Major Roger E. Simmons.[1][2][3] Wayne had intended to use money earned from her performances in Vietnam to revive her recording career;[1][3] and to marry her fiancé, Clive Cavanagh, who was the drummer for her performance troupe, Sweethearts on Parade.[2] Killen served two years of his sentence in the US, before a second court-martial cleared him of the charge and he was released.[1][5]


Cathy Wayne was born as Catherine Anne Warnes on 7 December 1949 in Arncliffe, New South Wales, Australia.[2] Wayne was the child of George Warnes and Nancy Starnes, née Buck.[1][2] She went to Athelstane Public School where she began singing and dancing classes.[1] Wayne later attended Arncliffe Girls' High School, and, before the age of 12, had performed in school concerts and local community stage shows.[1] She took up a dancing spot on Sydney television, TCN-9, programme Opportunity Knocks.[1] She also appeared on an Australian TV special, A Night with Leslie, starring US entertainer Leslie Uggams.[2][3] At the age of 16, after winning a talent contest, Wayne was offered a regular role on television variety show, Bandstand, alongside veteran Rock 'N' Roll performers Col Joye and Little Pattie.[1][2][3] Wayne signed with Joye's agency ATA and was managed by his sister Carole Jacobsen.[2][3]

Although under legal drinking age, Wayne performed in licensed clubs around Sydney, she also recorded advertising jingles and uncharted singles.[1][2] Concert tours along the east coast of Australia, headlined by Joye, led to her first tour of South Vietnam at the age of 17, in early 1967.[1][2] This tour was sanctioned by the Australian Forces Advisory Committee on Entertainment.[1] Wayne was presented as a modette version of fellow Bandstand regular Little Pattie.[3] Upon return to Australia, Wayne continued her appearances on Bandstand and touring with Joye.[1]

In mid-1969, Sweethearts on Parade, an Australian pop group and performing troupe, was established by Sydney promoter Les Maisler to tour Vietnam.[2][6] Sweethearts on Parade consisted of Wayne on lead vocals, Clive Cavanagh on drums, Jacqui Edwards as a Go-Go dancer, Rick Hoare on guitar, Jeff Howison as MC, singer and comedian, Jimmy Taylor on organ and bass guitar, and Natalia Woloch as a Go–Go dancer.[2][6] Wayne, as lead singer of Sweethearts on Parade, returned to South Vietnam on an unsanctioned tour.[3][4] Wayne's parents and Col Joye attempted to dissuade her from this second tour,[3] but Wayne insisted and intended to use money earned from her performances in Vietnam to restart her recording career.[1][3] Wayne wanted to marry her fiancé, Cavanagh, who was the drummer in Sweethearts on Parade.[2] The group arrived in Vietnam on 26 June 1969, Wayne stayed in Saigon between shows for Australian and US troops.[2]

Entertaining Vietnam (2003), showing Cathy Wayne onstage in June or July 1969 performing to troops in Vietnam

The tour agent was Ingrid Hart,[1][4] who recalled that "[Wayne] wanted to be there with her boyfriend, they were going to get some money together and get married".[4] On 20 July 1969, Sweethearts on Parade were performing for about 75 US Marines at a Non-commissioned officer's club 7 km (4 mi) south-east of Da Nang in South Vietnam.[2][3] At about 9:15 p.m., Wayne had just finished a song and was still on stage to introduce her fellow performers when she was shot in the chest by a bullet fired from a .22 pistol, fitted with a silencer, which had been stolen at the base.[1][2][3][5] Wayne died almost instantly as the bullet severed her aorta.[2] In Entertaining Vietnam, a 2003 documentary directed and produced by Mara Wallis,[7] Taylor was interviewed on the events of Wayne's death, footage of a Sweethearts on Parade performance with Wayne singing was shown (see screenshot at left).[7] Taylor recalled that he was sitting about a metre (three feet) behind Wayne and that Cavanagh had stepped forward to cradle his fiancée when she slumped to the floor.[2][6][7]

At his first court-martial, US Marine Sergeant James Wayne Killen was charged with premeditated murder and was alleged to have been aiming for his commanding officer, Major Roger E. Simmons.[1][2] Killen was convicted of the unpremeditated murder of Wayne;[1][2] he was stripped of all service privileges, dishonourably discharged and sentenced to 20 years hard labour.[1][2][3] Killen denied all murder claims but admitted to drinking heavily on the night.[2][3] After the autopsy in Saigon, Wayne's body was returned to Sydney and cremated according to Anglican rites.[1][2] The Sydney Morning Herald's Shane Green cited Don Morrisson's book, written under his pen name J D Owen, Murder on Stage; Morrisson described how Killen served two years of his sentence before being given a re-trial in the US where he was cleared of the charge of unpremeditated murder and released.[5][8] As of April 2015 the actual shooter had not been identified.[5][9] Based on Morrisson's research, the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on Warne was amended in June 2015.[9]


  • Owen, J. D. (9 October 2014). Murder on Stage (1st ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1-50274-853-9.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Rayner, Michelle (2002). "Warnes, Catherine Anne (1949–1969)". Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). Melbourne, Vic.: Melbourne University Press. p. 496. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Digital copy of item with barcode 11531717 – File No.: 62/2/3/2 – Subject: Catherine A. Warnes". National Archives of Australia. pp. 1–125. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Cockington, James (2001). "The Saigon RSL". Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll. Sydney, N.S.W.: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. pp. 138–140. ISBN 978-0-7333-0750-8.
  4. ^ a b c d McHugh, Siobhán (1993). Minefields and Miniskirts: Australian Women and the Vietnam War. Melbourne, Vic.: Doubleday. pp. 75–76, 104. ISBN 978-0-86824-490-7. Retrieved 21 February 2009. NOTE: On-line version has limited access.
  5. ^ a b c d e Green, Shane (18 April 2015). "Who shot Cathy Wayne? The mystery of the first Australian woman killed in Vietnam". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Taylor, Jimmy. "The Jimmy Taylor Story Part 2". Jimmy Taylor. Archived from the original on 24 April 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  7. ^ a b c "Entertaining Vietnam – A film by Mara Wallis". Entertaining Vietnam. 2003. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  8. ^ Solis, Gary (1989). Marines And Military Law In Vietnam: Trial By Fire (PDF). History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps. pp. 148–51. ISBN 9781494297602.
  9. ^ a b Allbrook, Malcolm (June 2015). "ADB Corrigenda" (PDF). Biography Footnotes. Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). Australian National University (14): 9. ISSN 1838-6377. Retrieved 9 December 2016.