'Harry Rickards is recognised as one of the most colourful and dynamic showmen to appear on the Australian variety theatre stage.'
Toni Lamond, an Australian show-business legend, launched Gae's book at the Waverley Bowling & Recreation Club on 20 May 2009 to a group of fifty friends and relatives. Frank Van Straten, Melbourne writer and historian, officiated. Di Bird, the Sydney-based jazz vocalist and her band - Ed Gaston on bass (sadly now deceased) and Ray Aldridge on piano - provided the evening's entertainment.
A crowd of fifty excited guests gathered upstairs at Waverley's Eastern Suburbs Legion Club on Wednesday night, 20 May 2009 to cheer the launch of Gae's book on the life of Australia's Tivoli showman, Harry Rickards.
Throughout the evening, the renowned jazz singer Di Bird, accompanied by Ed Gaston, double bass and Ray Aldridge, piano, entertained the assembled throng. With a connection that goes back to their childhood days in country New South Wales, Di and Gae have supported each other's endeavours since they first met in Sydney in the early 90s.
As guests ate, drank and enjoyed the spirit of the occasion, the MC for the evening, Frank Van Straten, welcomed the assembled throng including Annabel Day, Rickards' great granddaughter, and Brian Croll, the showman's great great nephew. Frank, who wrote the acclaimed 'Tivoli', a book celebrating the Tivoli theatre years, entertained with amusing examples of some of the acts on offer at the 'Tiv' a century ago.
The night's highlight came when Frank invited Toni Lamond to officially launch Gae's book. A hearty round of applause greeted the veteran actor, singer, dancer and comedienne, recipient of two Logie and two Lifetime Achievement awards. Taking centre-stage, Toni, accompanied by the band, sang two monologues originating from her mother and step-father (Stella Lamond and Max Reddy). She said she was thrilled to be invited to launch 'Tivoli King', a book she had read and could highly recommend.
In her 'thank you' speech Gae considered Toni's launch of 'Tivoli King' to be a dream come true, and that her mother's monologue brought back special memories of her contribution to the Tivoli Theatre all those years ago. She acknowledged Toni as one of Australia's great showbusiness women, a legend in her own lifetime.
She went on to describe the evening's MC as another legend in his own lifetime; Melbourne's great gain and Sydney's considerable loss. She thanked Frank for coming to Sydney, and said how much she valued their on-going friendship. She thanked Annabel and Brian for their gifts of Rickards' material, including family letters, hand-written entertainment books, photos and a scrapbook. Their photographic contribution gave life and vitality to her book, and it served to bring the past closer to the present.
In conclusion, Gae thanked everyone for coming to celebrate her book's completion. She announced Currency Press would commence distributing copies of 'Tivoli King' throughout Australia in July.