Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Donovan Andree

Island 16 Nov 2003

Malcolm Andree follows father Donavan Andree’s footsteps
by Kalinga Weerakkody

Malcolm Andree follows the footsteps of his late father Donavan Andree who was the country’s leading showman.

Malcolm though 70 now continues in the same spirit as the began 47 years ago into the show business.
He still talks of his earlier days and calls them moments of a lifetime.

His very first show was for the Ceylon American Youth Society ‘Melody Damour’.
The signature tune of his radio show ‘a certain smile’ was
sung by Heather Crake, Loreta Ohlmus and Keen Hangier. It was originally sung by ‘The Johns Boys’ and the show was compered by Bob Harvey, the band members being Harold Seneviratne, Gerry Crake, Erlene Peck and Patrick Nelson.

The other members of the show were Lauren Grahaem, Noeline Honter, Dalrene Suby, Pat Clyde, The Jay Brothers, Denzil and Vasco duo, Denis Roberts, Sharmine Andrado, Doreen Steuwart, the late Lylie Godridge, the late Gerry Crake and Dudley Perera.

Malcolm was paid only Rs.250/- for producing the show — a poultry sum compared to the total returns from the show. When Bob Harvey often asked him how he managed with that paultry amount his answer was ‘I do it for fun kicks’.

Malcolm also had many other radio shows and three of them were sponsored such as "The Elasto (S.L.Marketing Services), Talent Show and Star’s of Lanka.

Malcolm describes the artistes of yesteryear as just wonderful
Malcolm also produced stage shows from 1959 at the request of Kandy showman E.W.Balasooriya.
They begining with English shows around 1962/1963 and later
oriental shows with the help of showman Jayatissa Hettiarachchi.

The artistes who appeared in such shows were La Ceylonians, Three Sisters, Saman de Silva, M.S. Fernando, H.R . Jothipala, Sujatha Attanayake, Nuwan Gunawardena, Derrick de Silva Kumudini (The Rimbo girl) and the duo of the famous Jet Liners fame Tony Fernando and his wife Mignonne.

Malcolm is the youngest of a family of three boys and three girls.

Malcolm talked his father and what he did to promote show business here during the early years.

Donavan had many clubs such as ‘Stadium Sports Club(SSC) and also had carnivals to raise funds.
One of his best shows was ‘Holiday on Ice’ which featured the famous Harlem Blackbirds.

"My father also helped in sports at the request of the then President of Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) Julian Grero and one to benefit was Sri Lanka’s high jumper S.Ediriweerasingham who won the first Asian Gold medal for Sri Lanka in 1958.

Donavan gifted Ediriweerasingham with Rs.3000 (then big money) for his feat.

Among Donavan Andree’s other shows were the Golden Gate Quartet (group of four), Belly dancers.

My father also encouraged boxing, wrestling, netball, football and cricket. The famous Erin de Selfa who sang under the stage name of ‘Diana’ accompanied by a musical group called the Tails was my father’s second wife.

Erin Selfa was also the only local vocalist to sing before the King and Queen of England at the London Palladium.

Following the demise of his father Malcolm took over supporting sports -netball at Stadium SC in Bambalapitiya and among the players such as Pamela Thajudeen, Christine Blake, Mignonne Fernando, Seetha Weerasooriya, Rani Herath, Kildy Kretser, Tony Joseph, Patsy Herath, Anne de Silva and Rio Ramlan to name a few.

He thanked the late Trixie Jayasooriya, late Kusuma George, Ransilu Wijedasa, Ovone Poulier, Rio Ramlan, Margaret Perera and Dasie Kuruppu, for helping the netball team and also helping him to become a netball coach.

Malcom also spoke high of the golden greats of broadcasting such as the legendary Livy R. Wijemanna, Jimmy Barusha, Vernon Abeysekara, Thevis Guruge, Nihal Greg, Harold Fernando, Derrick Meloney, Shirley de Silva, Shirly Perera, Norton Perera, Cris Jayamanna Leon Belleth and Vijaya Corea.
He finally thanked Padmasiri who is looking after him like a father.

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