T-shirt, mens, acrylic, maker unknown, worn by James Kemsley as the television character Skeeter, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1971-1974
This shirt is significant because it was worn on television by James Kemsley in the role of 'Skeeter the paper boy', host of the afternoon children's program 'Cartoon Corner'.
Kemsley first appeared as Skeeter on 'The Super Flying Fun Show', which commenced production at TCN-9 in Sydney in October 1969, starring Rod Hull and Marilyn Mayo. It also featured Reg Gorman who, like Hull, was known to audiences from his earlier appearances on 'Kaper Kops'. When Hull began using an emu puppet, the reception was so favourable that he soon took the act back to his native England and achieved a great deal of success. Hull was replaced by Daryl 'Marty' Morton, a comic on the club circuit, who also performed with the emu puppet. Screening on weekdays between 7am and 9am, the long-running 'Super Flying Fun Show' mixed local magazine-style segments with American cartoons. There were also live advertisements urging viewers, for example, to eat Paddle Pops and to look for plastic toys inside their box of Corn Flakes. It was produced by Jim Badger, who had worked for Sydney's TCN-9 since 1958, and who sometimes appeared as Humphrey B Bear.
Born in 1948, James Kemsley had been studying acting at Sydney's Independent Theatre and was given the role of the paper boy on 'The Super Flying Fun Show'. The character's name was based on a gag by Jim Badger who named him 'Andrew Moss' which, when shortened to 'A. Moss', suggested the nickname 'Skeeter', as in 'a mosquito'. Kemsley was made up with childlike freckles on his face and dressed in a trademark cap and scarf and, in those days of black-and-white television, striped shirts. He also wore a suede leather fringed jacket.
When Channel Nine decided to start an afternoon children's program called 'Cartoon Corner' (again with Badger as producer), Skeeter was chosen as host. Kemsley played the part of Skeeter for four years. In 1973 he appeared as a slightly more mature Skeeter character, complete with dinner suit, to host Nine's 'Junior Cabaret', a live kids' variety show similar to Ten's 'Young Talent Time'. It featured talented children such as Rhonda Burchmore. He also hosted 'Friday on the Corner'.
From 1984, James Kemsley distinguished himself as the writer and artist of Australia's most famous and widely syndicated comic strip 'Ginger Meggs'. He passed away in 2007.