Government House

Vale Max Kay AM CIT WA

Dear friends and good acquaintances are passing away regularly these days. I guess that’s what happens when you reach 70.

Yesterday it was the joyful entertainer, Perth Councillor, 2000 WA Citizen of the Year Max Kay. I had always thought him indestructible. I last saw him a few months ago at Vince Garreffa’s extraordinary home-located Lifeline Breakfast. He said he had been battling cancer but was feeling well on top of it. He certainly looked like it.

That may have been an illusion because he always exuded life. Icon is an overused word, including by myself. But there is no doubt Max was an icon of the WA performing arts community. He ran his own Civic Theatre in Inglewood, then Highgate for over 25 years. He wrote and performed acts in his own theatre. He brought popular art to a then starved Perth. He helped countless actors, singers and dancers get a start or continuity. He was famous Australia wide.

I think what made him so loved was his kindness and unselfishness. His theatres closed, he threw himself into local government and charity work. At most of the charitable events of substance when he was well he would be seen. An early denizen of Appealathon. He was at its early stages only a few years after immigrating from Scotland in 1967. He immediately declared Perth “Paradise”. Perth is what the British imagine Australia to be – blue sky, temperate non-humid climate, white beaches. 7% of Australians have been born in Britain, in WA that figure is 14%.

My wife worked with Max when she was a producer on Channel Nine’s locally produced Perth’s Young Entertainers. He was a kindly, gentle judge.

Many have thought humour is best done with a Doric accent. Max sort of proved the point. Minister David Templeman, no mean entertainer himself, grieved, “the passing of a legend”. He could still kick a heel and crack a joke only a few months ago. This is not timely, it is sad.

Deepest sympathy to Norma and his family, three children and eight grandchildren. Their grief is broadly shared.

The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia

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