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Peter Allen (1944–1992)

Peter Allen, by Rennie Ellis, 1980

Peter Allen, by Rennie Ellis, 1980

State Library of Victoria, 49302235

Australia's entertainment industry is mourning the sudden death in the US of singer, dancer and songwriter Peter Allen.

Allen, 48, had died of an AIDS-related illness in San Diego, his personal assistant, Bruce Cudd, said. He died about 5am Canberra time yesterday.

Australia had lost one of its greatest entertainers, the publicist of Allen's last Australian tour, Lionel Midford, said. Allen had been a true professional.

Allen cut short his Australian tour in January after having had throat cancer diagnosed. He had a large tumour removed and he returned to the US for treatment.

"He was so professional and wonderful and, even though he was sick, he put on one of the best shows," Mr Midford said.

"Australia has lost one of its greatest talents."

His song I Still Call Australia Home is known nationally.

A veteran Australian singer, Judy Stone, said she was still shocked by the news of her friend. They performed on the television entertainment show Bandstand.

"He was a great performer and he kept performing right up till his operation — you can't get much better than that," said Ms Stone, who also had throat cancer.

"We were both in St Vincent's Hospital [Sydney] in January, and ... had our throats operated on by the same surgeon on the same day.

"He came into my room to see me because he was going back to the States and I just wanted to give him a big hug — he looked so ill.

"We were always taught in Australia that the show must go on and Peter epitomised that."

Former colleagues on Bandstand hoped some sort of service could be held for Allen in Australia.

Ms Stone said that although she was on recovering from her throat operation the news of Allen's death had "knocked the wind out of my sails".

Allen's mother, Marion Woolnough, who lives in Sydney, was too upset to comment.

Channel Nine news-reader Brian Henderson, the former Bandstand host, refused to comment too.

Allen was born in Tenterfield, northern NSW, on February 10, 1944.

He began performing on Australian Bandstand when he was 15 as one of the Allen Brothers.

He went to Hong Kong in 1964, and was discovered there by Judy Garland.

She saw him sing at a hotel, took him to London and got him work there with her.

He went later to the United States, where he met Garland's daughter, Liza Minelli, whom he married in 1967. They divorced in the 1970s.

Allen's best known songs include I Go To Rio, Copacabam, I Honestly Love You and Quiet Please, There's A Lady On Stage.

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'Allen, Peter (1944–1992)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 July 2024.

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