“Sorry to be so messy about this, but it’s swift – that’s one thing. Please tell Mum gently.”
These were the tear-stained words written on the back of an Australian army call-up notice found in the suit pocket of radio star Harold St George Blackshaw on November 27, 1943.
“Dear Everybody, Sorry to do this, but my nerves have got the better of me,” George Blackshaw’s suicide note read.
Best known for his role in “Calling the Stars”, a hit variety show broadcast in front of a live audience, 31-year-old Blackshaw’s headless body was found on the railway tracks between Artarmon and St Leonards just hours before he was to report for military duty.
“Dear Everybody, Sorry to do this, but my nerves have got the better of me,” his suicide note read, “I will be unable for a while to earn enough to keep Mother comfortably and without worry, and I can’t face this.
Blackshaw tragically took his own life on 27 November 1943.
“It’s a gruesome prospect. I always have been sensitive, and the thought of having to live so close to large numbers of people is the last straw.
“Furthermore, I am broken-hearted. I was within reach of achieving my life’s ambition. I can’t face life as a member of an Army entertainment unit. I use my nerves to perform. I couldn’t stand up to being ordered to perform.”
Hundreds of telegrams and sympathy cards were sent from grieving fans.
Blackshaw’s shock death threw a legion of fans into mourning, with piles of sympathy notes and telegrams delivered to radio stations around the country, who even broadcast a special memorial for thousands of devastated Australian listeners.
Born in 1912, Blackshaw’s rise to fame began when he moved from Melbourne to Neutral Bay in the late 1930s, settling in Wycombe Rd with his mother, Minna and sister Nancy.