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Denise Drysdale pays tribute to ‘little Aussie battler’ Ernie Sigley following his death at 82


‘He was enormously generous to me’: Denise Drysdale delivers heartfelt tribute to Ernie Sigley who died at age 82 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease – and says he was ‘one of a kind’

Denise Drysdale has paid tribute to her television partner Ernie Sigley in a heartfelt statement after his death at 82, following a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

‘We’ve lost one of the all-time greats of Australian TV and radio today,’ the 72-year-old said in a statement to Herald Sun.

‘Ernie Sigley was one of a kind. He was enormously generous to me. In fact, if it wasn’t for Ernie, I doubt that my career would have turned out the way it did. He always just let me be myself and that is the greatest gift of all.’

Generous: Denise Drysdale has paid tribute to her late television partner Ernie Sigley, 82, who died following a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Pictured together in the 1970s

‘I will cherish the memories of all the mischief we got up to together. He still makes me laugh just thinking about him. Love and respect, dear Ernie. Vale Ernie Sigley.’

Sigley and Drysdale worked together on TV variety shows, and had a pop hit, Hey Paula, which peaked at number two in the Australian charts in 1974.

Sigley, who won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975, had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in October 2016. 

Tribute: 'We've lost one of the all-time greats of Australian TV and radio today,' the 72-year-old said in a statement to Herald Sun

Tribute: ‘We’ve lost one of the all-time greats of Australian TV and radio today,’ the 72-year-old said in a statement to Herald Sun

His death was announced by Channel Seven entertainment reporter Peter Ford early Monday morning.

Ford tweeted: ‘Very sad to hear of Ernie Sigley’s death. His unique larrikin style made it look easier than it really is.

‘TV, radio, recording success and live concerts – what a great career! But his greatest pride was his family. He was kind to me so I’ll be sad but honoured to pay tribute today.’

Ill health: Sigley, who won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975, had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in October 2016. Pictured on the cover of TV Week magazine in the 1970s

Ill health: Sigley, who won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975, had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in October 2016. Pictured on the cover of TV Week magazine in the 1970s

A TV host, radio presenter and singer, Sigley’s diminutive stature, working-class roots and larrikin laugh often saw him referred to as the ‘little Aussie battler’. 

Sigley hosted game show Wheel of Fortune from 1981 to 1984, and also fronted a national variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show, in the 1970s.

He was an original cast member on the ’60s variety program Sunnyside Up.

'Little battler': Sigley hosted game show Wheel of Fortune from 1981 to 1984, and also fronted a national variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show, in the '70s. Pictured on the cover of the Brisbane edition of TV Week

‘Little battler’: Sigley hosted game show Wheel of Fortune from 1981 to 1984, and also fronted a national variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show, in the ’70s. Pictured on the cover of the Brisbane edition of TV Week

In addition to his television career, he was a regular radio broadcaster for 57 years.

Sigley started his radio hosting career as ‘Ernie Williams’ on Radio Luxembourg, before stints at 3DB, News Talk 3UZ and Melbourne’s 3AW.

He hosted 3AW’s afternoon show from 1996 until his retirement in 2008.

Sigley also found success as a singer, a career which began as a choir boy at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

His first record, Love Is a Golden Ring, was released in 1957. 

Duo: Sigley found success as a singer, and was known for collaborating with Denise Drysdale

Duo: Sigley found success as a singer, and was known for collaborating with Denise Drysdale

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