Ernest William Sigley
2 September 1938
Ernest William Sigley (born 2 September 1938) is a Gold Logie winning Australian host, radio presenter and singer. Known as a pioneer of Australian television, Sigley is often styled as a "little Aussie battler" with a larrikin sense of humour.
He was born in Footscray, Melbourne, one of seven children of a boilermaker. After completing his education at Williamstown High School, Sigley's career began in 1952 as a turntable operator on Danny Webb's breakfast program at radio station 3DB (Melbourne). Television started in Australia in 1956, and Sigley made his TV debut as host of Teenage Mailbag on HSV-7 in 1957. Shortly after this, he travelled to London, gaining some work experience at the BBC. But a bigger break was to come with a three-year stint at Radio Luxembourg, where he performed under the name 'Ernie Williams'.
Sigley is remembered for his 1964 association with the Adelaide leg of The Beatles tour of Australia. In one press conference, Sigley's questioning of The Beatles brought about an enthusiastic response from John Lennon, which led to one of the best interviews of the tour.
In 1981 he returned to 3DB to host the breakfast program. Sigley was host of the afternoon program on Melbourne's 3AW from 1996 until his retirement on Friday 7 November 2008, when he took on a part-time role at the station. Sigley partnered either Bruce Mansfield or Philip Brady in the Friday night slot. Sigley ended his radio career in January 2009 after a 57-year association with the industry, when it is believed he stormed out of a heated meeting with 3AW management.
He was part of the original cast of Sunnyside Up, and in the 1960s and early 1970s, Sigley hosted the prime time Adelaide variety show, Adelaide Tonight on NWS-9. Beginning in 1974, Sigley was the host of the national Nine Network variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show, featuring notable Australian media personalities such as Denise Drysdale, Noni Hazlehurst, Pete Smith and Joy Westmore. The program was abruptly axed after an off-air outburst by Sigley, directed at station owner Kerry Packer and producer Peter Faiman, when the network cut short his first show for 1976 to accommodate a network sports awards telecast. Packer flew to Melbourne the next day and dismissed Sigley in person, effective immediately, and replaced him with Don Lane.
After his dismissal in 1976, Sigley moved to ATV-0 and hosted the early evening variety show Ernie and then in 1978, the Penthouse, which became Saturday Night Live on HSV-7 co-hosting with Mary Hardy.
He was the original host of the Australian version of the popular game show, Wheel of Fortune, from 1981 to 1984. In 1982, he presented the regional variety program Six Tonight from BTV-6 Ballarat, and the daytime talent show Pot Luck in 1987.
Sigley began singing as a choir boy at St Paul's Cathedral,and went on to be a regular on the local Town Hall circuit in the 1950's. In 1957, his first record, Love Is A Golden Ring, was released by W & G Records.
In 1974, Sigley, with Denise Drysdale, recorded the popular duet, "Hey Paula", released by Festival Records, Australia and produced at Armstrong Studios, Melbourne. This song went on to be a No. 1 best-selling hit for them in Australia.
Sigley regularly performed around Australia on the club circuit, often with his television partner, Denise Drysdale. More recently he has teamed up with fellow broadcaster and singer, Denis Walter.
Sigley won the TV Week Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975. He had previously won 11 local Logies for his work in Adelaide.
Three times married and twice divorced,Sigley is married to Glenys O'Brien, a multi-Logie award-winning former television personality. They live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and have four adult children.
Sigley is also a passionate supporter of the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as the Footscray Football Club). His family announced in October 2016 that Ernie is living with Alzheimer's disease.