Person - Keith Smith

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EDWARD KEITH SMITH (1917 - 2011)

Later a household name on radio and TV as "The Pied Piper", Keith Smith in 1949 acted in The Lion on the Square . A prankster, he tried to set up Les Tanner one night on stage by placing a ewer full of water in front of his chair. Tanner avoided it and replaced it in front of the door. Making a hurried entrance, Keith Gow trod on it, there was water and broken crockery everywhere and both cast and audience went into hysterics.

Keith Smith was born in Melbourne on 4 September 1917. During the Depression his father, a store salesman, worked only one week in three and Keith aged 13 was taken out of school when his parents, who believed in free education, refused to pay the fees. He got a job in a foundry and worked as a signwriter before turning to his first ambition ~ acting and writing. At age eight he had put together his first comedy sketches for Sunday School concerts and now started writing comedy sketches for radio. He became a radio studio manager in Melbourne.

During the Second World War, Smith served with the AIF in New Guinea where he met radio personality Bob Dyer who was entertaining the troops. After demobilisation in 1946 Smith lived in Sydney where he worked on radio and stage and with an advertising agency. He wrote comedy for Bob Dyer and rival quizmaster Jack Davey (Smith and Davey worked together for 10 years, often overnight) and George Foster. In 1949 Smith was employed by ABC radio as a reporter and initiated the Pied Piper program which transferred to television. By 1987 when he was interviewed on Caroline Jones' Search for Meaning he had been interviewing children for 38 years.

Apart from books for children, Keith Smith wrote The Palace of Signs: memories of hard times and high times in the Great Depression, Australian battlers remember: the Great Depression and World War 11 wasn’t all hell.

He married, drove a Jaguar and was a friend of businessman Dick Smith. Keith Smith saw himself as a person who tried to be tolerant, but who was impatient and fast-moving by temperament. An observer rather than a participant, he was interested in séances and automatic writing. In the last years of his life he lived by himself in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

Keith Smith died on 2 June 2011.

There is a lot online about Keith Smith including a Wikipedia entry.

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