Legendary Australian personality Jeanne Little has died. Picture: Supplied
Legendary Australian personality Jeanne Little has died. Picture: Supplied

Aussie TV icon Jeanne Little dies

Much-loved Australian entertainer and television performer Jeanne Little has died, aged 82.

Her daughter Katie Little revealed her mother's death in Sydney on social media on Saturday evening.

"My mother has left the earthly plane. This is a huge shock - but I'm so grateful. Love you all my friends. Cheers Mum, to all the fun times," Katie Little wrote.

Jeanne, born Jeanne Mitchell, had been battling Alzheimer's disease.

She burst into the spotlight in 1974 after appearing on The Mike Walsh Show, initially as a guest to showcase her unique clothing designs, but quickly became one of the program's most popular regulars.

Jeanne Little and Molly Meldrum. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little and Molly Meldrum. Picture: Supplied

Her quirky manner and crazy costumes - she always dressed for the occasion - immediately endeared her to the public.

Little won the Gold Logie in 1977 for most popular television personality of 1976 for her work on The Mike Walsh Show.

After an appearance on the Michael Parkinson show in London, the London Evening News reported: "What a woman! With her in the house you wouldn't want a TV."

She appeared on numerous Australian variety shows, including The Don Lane Show, and Ray Martin's Midday show, and went on to be a panellist on Beauty and the Beast opposite Stan Zemanek.

Jeanne Little with Don Lane and US actor Burt Lancaster after her Gold Logie win in 1977. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little with Don Lane and US actor Burt Lancaster after her Gold Logie win in 1977. Picture: Supplied

Her one woman show, Marlene, a tribute to actress Marlene Dietrich, was critically acclaimed and toured Australia and the US.

Little was 68 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009 She went into care in a Sydney nursing home two years later.

Little's husband, and Katie's father, Barry Little, died in 2019.

Jeanne Little was hugely popular with Australian TV viewers. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little was hugely popular with Australian TV viewers. Picture: Supplied

 

Jeanne Little at the Logies. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little at the Logies. Picture: Supplied

Announcing her mother's death on Twitter on Saturday evening, Katie Little shared lyrics from the song I'll Be Here Tomorrow by Jerry Herman, from the show The Grand Tour.

"I'll be here tomorrow, Alive and well and thriving. I'll be here tomorrow, It's simply called surviving."

Katie, described her adored mother as "an iconic piece of Australian culture," in an interview with the Sunday Herald Sun in 2018.

Jeanne Little with her Beauty and the Beast co-stars, Belinda Green, Ita Buttrose, Julia Morris, Stan Zemanek, Carlotta, and Charlotte Dawson. The show was a huge hit. Picture: Regina King
Jeanne Little with her Beauty and the Beast co-stars, Belinda Green, Ita Buttrose, Julia Morris, Stan Zemanek, Carlotta, and Charlotte Dawson. The show was a huge hit. Picture: Regina King

"She was such an individual and she was so unafraid to be herself," Katie said.

"She loved dressing up, loved making outfits and loved to entertain. She was a great person and I want more people to celebrate and remember that."

"Mum had such a great outlook on life. She always saw the positive in everyone. She had no ego and she was so loved."

Jeanne Little at the Logie awards in 2001. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little at the Logie awards in 2001. Picture: Supplied

 

Jeanne Little, pictured at the Melbourne Cup in 1983, was known for her individual style. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little, pictured at the Melbourne Cup in 1983, was known for her individual style. Picture: Supplied

JEANNE LITTLE'S UNIQUE STYLE

A clever seamstress from a young age, Little's quirky, home stitched outfits were her calling card and they made her famous.

Three dresses stand out from her Mike Walsh Show days, one made from 3000 one-dollar coins, another made from hundreds of milk bottle tops and one made from slices of burnt toast.

Anything could be fashioned into clothing in her mind, be it a suit made from black plastic, a raincoat constructed from bubble wrap, a bridal gown made from mosquito net, or a hat made out of LP records.

During her appearances on The Mike Walsh Show, Aussie TV viewers couldn’t wait to see what Jeanne Little would do next. Picture: Supplied
During her appearances on The Mike Walsh Show, Aussie TV viewers couldn’t wait to see what Jeanne Little would do next. Picture: Supplied

In 1974 she opened a fashion boutique in Paddington in Sydney that mirrored her unique and flamboyant style.

It was not long before she became a media darling and was invited on to The Mike Walsh Show.

While The Mike Walsh Show was her highest profile and most enduring television role, Jeanne appeared on numerous other popular shows including Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton and Blankety Blanks with Daryl Somers.

Jeanne Little’s style was iconic. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little’s style was iconic. Picture: Supplied

In 1982 she turned 'Glad Bags' into a fashion statement and launched the Glad Bag Fashion Awards.

At the Melbourne Cup that year hundreds of racegoers took the trend to heart, dining their Glad Bag ensembles.

Meanwhile, Little took a sleeker turn in a black suit made from bin liners. She called her look "recession fashion."

Ten years later she launched the Glad Wedding Competition on Ray Martin's Midday show.

Little also appeared at the Royal Bicentennial Concert held in Sydney in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1988.

It was reported in her 2006 biography, Hello Darling!, when she met Diana she said, "Hello darling, you must've been so tired flying all the way over to Australia to sit through this long concert."

Jeanne Little pictured with Mike Walsh and George Burns. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little pictured with Mike Walsh and George Burns. Picture: Supplied

Diana replied, "Oh no, we had a very comfortable double bed on our plane, so we arrived completely rested, thank you."

Following her Alzheimer's disease diagnosis in 2009, her daughter Katie, started the Jeanne Little Alzheimer's Research Fund to raise money for the research institute NeuRA.

"Mum always poured so much energy into supporting many, many charities for which she was awarded an Order of Australia," she said at the time.

"She had huge compassion for people and was always trying to lift people's spirits and inspire them to make a difference.

"I know she'd love this research fund and would be thrilled to know she's still helping people even when she can't get out there and do it herself.

"Can you imagine what she would be saying? It would be like 'Daaarlings! You've just got to help! You've just got to!'"

Jeanne Little January was a favourite with TV viewers. Picture: Erin Byrne
Jeanne Little January was a favourite with TV viewers. Picture: Erin Byrne

In April, Katie spoke about the difficulties of not being able to see her mother during the COVID lockdown.

"Right in the beginning I sort of thought look 'I'm just going to well away', because obviously COVID-19 affects elderly people - it's so much more dangerous for them," Katie told the Morning Show.

"Mum's off in la-la land really, she is away with the fairies, so I sort of think, 'She's OK, she doesn't know anything', so if ever there was a blessing for Alzheimer's, this is it.

"The best thing I can do is just stay with the kids well away."

Jeanne Little and Pauline Hanson on Beauty & The Beast. Picture: Supplied
Jeanne Little and Pauline Hanson on Beauty & The Beast. Picture: Supplied

Hotspot lockdowns not statewide restrictions: Premier

Premium Content Hotspot lockdowns not statewide restrictions: Premier

Annastacia Palaszczuk says decision on opening SA to be made at end of month

Everybody appearing at Emerald Magistrates Court today

Premium Content Everybody appearing at Emerald Magistrates Court today

Here is a list of matters listed at Emerald Magistrates Court on Thursday.

State cutting it fine on $5.6b deadline

Premium Content State cutting it fine on $5.6b deadline

Coronavirus Qld: State yet to lodge international student plan