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Little Wonder that Jeanne Found Fame

Little Wonder that Jeanne Found Fame

Who: Jeannie Little
Where: Western Suburbs Leagues Club
Author: Anthony Scully
When: Friday February 2, 2001

IN 1975 a designer of outlandish maternity clothes, married to an interior designer and newspaper columnist, walked into the offices of Sydney's DAILY MIRROR to deliver her husband Barry's column.

Reporters at the office had grown accustomed to visits by the outlandishly dressed woman with the eyebrow-raising voice, and decided to photograph her for the paper.

The following day readers were introduced to JEANNE LITTLE, a colourful designer of clothes and a real-life Sydney eccentric.

The rest is history, and this Friday, February 2, at Western Suburbs Leagues Club, Newcastle will enjoy a return visit of Mrs Little and her fabulous TRIBUTE TO MARLENE DIETRICH. It is hard to imagine that Little would not have found her way onto the stage, even if that fateful article had not appeared in print.

'The girls in the newspaper office said Let's take a photo of those mad maternity clothes and it will give you a free plug for your failing business",' Little recalls.

'And I said That's so sweet of you", so darling on the fateful day that came out in the paper, about three people dropped out of the MIKE WALSH SHOW as it was in those days.'

Little continues the story without so much as taking a breath.

'And so the producer grabbed the paper, and ran through it and said: Tell that woman we'll send a cab for her, and she can have a free plug for her business."

'So after that they said Oh she's putting on that dreadful voice - it caaaan't be reeeeal", and so it caused a bit of talk.

'And then they asked me back and said Would you come on regularly twice a week?", so isn't it craaazy, absolutely maaaaad!'

And so Jeanne Little - national daytime television celebrity - was born, and she never had to set foot behind a dress shop counter again.

Five years later a visiting American director overheard Little singing in a dressing room at Channel Nine and, commenting on her naturally deep singing voice, suggested she perform some MARLENE DIETRICH tunes.

'And so darling, the first time I ever sang in my life - I'm not a trained singer at all, hadn't even had any lessons - I was singing on national television all around Austraaaaaalia!' she said.

'And I thought Oh my gosh, what if my brain fazes out, and I forget the words", because I was terrified.'

But like everything else the reluctant but natural performer has done in her life, it was embraced by an adoring public.

The Dietrich tribute has been performed annually for the past seven years, on one occasion in Denver, Colorado, at the invitation of the Australian ambassador, and on another occasion in San Francisco.

'I didn't try to get into any show business at all," Little says.

'I always say I'm the luckiest person in history.' TE

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