Ross Higgins

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Ross Higgins
Born (1931-06-14)14 June 1931[1]
Sydney, Australia
Died 7 October 2016(2016-10-07) (aged 85)
Occupation Actor, comedian, voice artist
Years active 1946–2016
Spouse(s) Nadine
Children 4

Ross Higgins (14 June 1931 – 7 October 2016) was an Australian vaudevillian, character actor, television host, comedian, singer and voice actor. He was best known for his role as bigoted and cranktankerous, but likable Ted Bullpitt in the 1980s television situation comedy series Kingswood Country and brief revival Bullpitt!, he was also a commercial advertiser who provided the voice of animated character "Louie the Fly" in the television ad campaign for Mortein, over a 50 year period (the longest running such ad in Australia) as well as Mr. Pound, when decimal currency was first introduced in Australia[2]

Early career: radio and recording[edit]

Higgins' entertainment industry career began in 1946, when he took a cadetship at Sydney's 2GB commercial radio station at the age of 15. This led to an on-air announcing position and hosting of breakfast and, later, evening variety shows. A trained singer, he soon began recording singles which lifted his profile around Australia. His flair for comedy came to the fore in the 1950s when he became a cast member of the very popular The Jack Davey Show. He moved between commercial radio and the ABC,[3] touring the country, hosting and singing with the ABC show band. It was during this period he performed with luminaries such as Peter Dawson, Slim Dusty and Mel Tormé. His radio career reached a peak in the mid-1950s and, when television arrived in 1956, he successfully made the transition, appearing on variety shows, hosting game shows on the 7 Network and in the early 1960s on Singalong and Bobby Limb's Sound of Music on the 9 Network.

Voice over[edit]

During the 1960s, Higgins consolidated his position as a leading voiceover artist, creating character voices for TV and radio ads and cartoons. His earliest character voice—"Louie the Fly"[4] (an animated fly for the Mortein fly-spray commercials),[2] was recorded by him as late as 2011.[2] It is now the longest continuously running campaign in television history, having run for over 50 years (1957–2011).

Theatre[edit]

During the mid-1960s, Higgins worked in theatre, doing several back-to-back seasons at Sydney's Menzies Theatre Restaurant—a popular nightspot where musicals were staged under the direction of Hayes Gordon.

Television[edit]

Higgins had an ongoing role playing a priest in the early Australian soap opera Motel in 1968. He also had guest roles in various series, including Division 4 and Skippy. Throughout the 1970s, he and voiceover colleague Kevin Golsby dominated Australian airwaves in the voiceover field. While enjoying this success, another break-through role came in 1977 when he and Goldsby were key regular performers in sketch comedy series The Naked Vicar Show. He played various characters in the series, which lasted two seasons.[5] In 1980, a spin-off series based on a bombastic Holden Kingswood driving character he had portrayed in one sketch of The Naked Vicar Show was created. Titled Kingswood Country, the series had a successful five-year run, completing five-and-a-half seasons.

Higgins played a straight dramatic role in the soap opera Richmond Hill (1988).[6] His character, a dour policeman, was the show's main authority figure. The series was cancelled at the end of 1988. In 1992, he starred in the Ten Network's sitcom Late for School (which launched the TV careers of Matthew Newton and Stephen Curry). Higgins' most recent role was a reprise of the Ted Bullpitt character in the situation comedy Bullpitt! in 1997, which had two seasons on the 7 Network. Kingswood Country has since found new audiences via cable TV and DVD.

Recording[edit]

Higgins used his vocal talents on thousands of projects during his 60 years in radio and television, including recording the song "Monster Mash" for ABC For Kids Video Hits,[7] recording an album of himself reading the classic Australian children's story "Blinky Bill".[8][9]

Personal life and death[edit]

Higgins and his wife Nadine had four children.

Higgins died of unspecified causes on 7 October 2016, aged 85. He had been ill for some time and had been hospitalised for several weeks.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ source: Grant Higgins (Ross's son)
  2. ^ a b c Erica Thompson (7 October 2008). "Ross Higgins' role of Ted Bullpitt appeals to a new un-PC generation". Courier Mail. Retrieved 6 Feb 2010. 
  3. ^ "21 Years of TV Times". TV Times. 7 July 1979. 
  4. ^ Louie the Fly. Straight from rubbish tip to you!
  5. ^ "What's On (February 3–9):". TV Times. 3 February 1979. Retrieved 5 Feb 2010. 
  6. ^ Andrew Mercado (2004). Super Aussie soaps: behind the scenes of Australia's best loved TV shows. Pluto Press Australia. pp. 274–277. ISBN 1-86403-191-3. Retrieved 5 Feb 2010. 
  7. ^ "ABC for kids [videorecording]". 1 Feb 2000. 
  8. ^ "Blinky Bill". Screensound Australia. 
  9. ^ "The adventures by Blinky Bill Dorothy Wall, narrated by Ross Higgins". 
  10. ^ "Kingswood Country star Ross Higgins dies". ABC News. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.