Name: Maurie Fields
No statement has been received from this suspect.
An Encyclopaedia of Australian Film (John Stewart, 1984)
Maurie Fields (1925-[1995 - BK])
Singer/actor who has done much vaudeville. Well-remembered on TV as John Quinney in the series Bellbird (1967-76). Other TV series: Bobby Dazzler, The Box. Films include:
Country Town '71,
Obituary - 'All laughter with a mongrel like Maurie' written by Terry Gill
There was this mongrel bloke, you see ... well, not a real mongrel. Name was Maurie - Maurie Fields. You must have heard of him. He was an actor mate of mine.
Well, he up and died the other day. Hadn't seen him for a while - been a bit crook, I'd heard. But then on Sunday afternoon I spotted him. There he was, walking out of a pub after a fund-raiser for another mate who was in need of a quid.
He was laughin' - he was always laughin'. We were going to do a charity Christmas job together at the weekend, live on the telly.
"Bloody Hell," he said. "All those lines to learn, mate, and nowhere to hide the script. No take two or three with this one. A man'll need a drink after this one!"
Well, it won't happen. I'll have the one or two on my own. Well, not really on my own - he'll be there, laughin' over my shoulder. He was always laughin' - the mongrel.
Born in Sydney in 1926; Manly, they reckon. His old man was an accountant with the railways. His mum sang a bit and played the goanna. He played the goanna, too. Self-taught; had a great feel for it. Had a good ear for music, loved singing, especially the blues, and was really grouse on the banjo and the ukelele.
In his early days he worked as a shearers' cook up north. He even crutched sheep, so they tell me. His music and laughter got him into vaudeville in the 1950s. He was part of a double act called Skit and Skat. Anyhow, they cracked it for a long contract with the well-known Sollies Revue, touring Australia and New Zealand, and it was to be with the Sollies that he met his wife to be, Val Jellay.
Good lookin' sheila - dancer, singer, soubrette. Been working professionally since she was four all over Australia, Europe, Africa and Pommy Land. She knew the ropes and encouraged and shared her experience with him. They sang together, danced together and laughed a lot together. Got married Easter Monday, 1960, in Albert park, down in Melbourne. A great double act.
Television was on the go by then and Val had scored a regular gig on the Seven variety show Sunny Side Up. Whe another "pro" was needed for a sketch, Maurie got the nod and continued to get the nod for six years. Household names, they were, along with Honest John Gilbert, Syd Heylen and Bill Collins.
Field turned his talents to the straight acting caper, becoming a regular Crawfords villain in many episodes of Homicide and Hunter, but the best was yet to come.
He turned up one day at the ABC, expecting to audition for a new show. He got the part on the spot and became the shifty, smooth-talking stock agent mongrel John Quinney. The whole of Australia loved to hate him at 6.25 every night for 10 years in Bellbird.
He was now "dead set" - an actor, but some still said he was a vaudeville person, not a man of the theatre. Bulldust. He was a natural for the acting lark and to prove it the mongrel made them all sit up with a great performance as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, and a wonderful football president in The Club for the Melbourne Theatre Company.
His TV career moved up and up and, like Cazaly, he rose above the pack with Aussie classics such as The Last of the Australians, with Alwyn Kurts; Bobby Dazzler (playing John Farnham's dad) Prisoner and Dunera Boys, to name just a few.
He also cracked a guernsey in many films, including Break of Day, Eliza Frazer and Winners, and received very good wraps from the press for Death of a Soldier, alongside Billy Hunter and James Coburn, and Fred Shepisi's Evil Angels.
About 10 years ago, Hector Crawford signed Maurie and Val for his favourite gig. They were to play Vic and Nancy, the publicans in the long-running Flying Doctors. They were now a TV double act.
"This is bloody ripper, mate!" he whipered to me at the first cast get-together. He laughed like he always did. "Two wages comin' in, plenty of places to hide me script behind the bar, and I get to pour beer all day. Let's hope this show's a goer."
It was, and pour beers they did, for about six years, endearing themselves to fans of The Flying Doctors all over the world, making us all laugh, but when required, making us cry and admire them both, with some wonderful episodes full of emotion and sensitivity.
He had problems with his ticker during The Flying Doctors. I think it was 1988. His quack told him to cut down on the fags and try to limit the beer to one bottle a day.
"All right, mate," he said, laughing as usual. "I'm allowing one beer a day, trouble is I'm already up to December 1992."
Oh yes, I haven't mentioned up 'til now - the mongrel did like a drink ... beer. So many hours he spent propping up th bar at the Danish club in Melbourne or any hotel close to where he was working. Publicans and public all loved him. He sat drinking slow and steady and his laughter and friendship drew people to him - never affected his work, however. Always on time. Always came up with the goods.
In recent years he found new, younger fans when he appeared regularly on Daryl Sommers's Hey! Hey! It's Saturday. Fields and Shane Bourne telling the Great Aussie Jokes, maurie somehow placing "a mongrel bloke" in every joke. "Get paid for laughin'", he told me. "I love it." He loved earning a quid "from any mug who'll have me", he said.
Through the years that he built his stage, TV and film reputation, he continued to play drums and banjo with his own Dixieland band in pubs and clubs, appeared as a stand-up comic compere and, along with Val, spent many a year at Tikki and John's Theatre Restaurant in Melbourne, showing the TV generation what vaudeville troupers can do.
He was a devoted family man of 34 years. His son, Marty, now an accomplished pianist, actor and comic, had been taught well by loving parents.
I'll miss the bugger. The whole of Australia will miss him. But it's London to a brick on, he won't be forgotten. I'm real glad I saw him last Sunday - outside a pub, laughin' as usual.
Maurie Fields - a legend, mate, a legend.
He is survived by Val and Marty.
Terry Gill is a freelance actor from Melbourne who appeared with Maurice Fields in clubs, pubs and many TV productions, including six years as Sergeant Jack Carruthers in The Flying Doctors.