Well known Lake Tyers Beach resident, Gloden Mercer, has made the hard decision to move back to Queensland in retirement after a famous career in theatre, opera and television.
“It will be hard to leave all my dear friends and students, but it’s time to go home and be close to my goddaughters and family, who are in Brisbane,” Gloden said.
She was born in 1934 to a policeman father, Victor Edwin Mercer, and Nessie (nee Payne), a dramatic singer on the ABC. From an early age Gloden was fascinated by songs and began lessons with her mother.
When she was nine they moved to Rockhampton and stayed there during the war.
“I remember we used to accompany Dad on the train if he was taking an offender down to Brisbane, then stay at the Police Academy,” Gloden said.
The family moved back to Brisbane after the war and Gloden started formal training in singing with Erb Jordan. She participated in many eistedfords, concerts and amateur theatre in the following years.
In 1952 she joined JC Williamson’s production of South Pacific and toured all around Australia for two and a half years, finishing up in Melbourne.
Gloden started singing on Brisbane Tonight and on the Gold Coast at the Chevron, Hibiscus and Hotel Grand Coolangatta Palm Lounge, but always continued studying and being coached by conductors.
“I met Jill Perryman and Nancy Hayes who was a beautiful dancer and we all became good friends,” she said.
“In those days the large theatre companies relied on big overseas names, but gradually they started using local talent.”
Gloden toured Australia with Gilbert and Sullivan and became engaged to her first husband. She was then off to New Zealand for eight months in The Mikado before heading back to Brisbane. She then did a stint with JC Williamson in Perth.
“After The King & I, I went to Melbourne and did various modelling jobs and was offered a spot in Hello Dolly. I chose to do opera and was in six productions. That’s when I met Joan Sutherland and we became friends,” Gloden said.
“Five of our members lost loved ones at this time. Sadly I lost my mother, but the show had to go on.
“Joan and Richard Bonynge helped me so much, and we kept that bond. I also worked with Pavarotti for the first time.”
Gloden appeared on Melbourne television quite regularly including Homicide, Carson’ s Law and Melbourne Tonight with Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton and Joffie Alan.
“Bert asked if I would sing on Good Morning Australia and I did so for the next eight years.
“I was with Victoria State Opera for 20 years and the Australian Opera for 10 and had two contracts with Queensland Opera.
“I was in Beauty and The Beast as the Enchanted Wardrobe, Bert Newton was the Clock and this is where I worked with Hugh Jackman.
“He asked me to sing at his wedding, which was a lovely honour.”
In 1973 Gloden met James Fitzpatrick at a Melbourne Cup barbecue.
Jim had bought a block of land down at Lake Tyers Beach and when he turned 70 decided to retire and they moved down and built the home Gloden lives in today.
She still did her opera and touring. Jim followed her itinerary and rang her every Sunday night. At one stage she was performing in Brisbane for six months and he came up and stayed.
Gloden spent a lot of time on the train back and forth from Melbourne.
She started teaching singing locally and does to this day, being very proud of her students who achieved A and A+ for their VCE music and have gone on with their music careers.
She also was respected and appreciated for her singing at community events and was mentioned in this year’s Remembrance Day Service for her commitment to the Lakes Entrance RSL.
After a 39-year engagement, Gloden and James finally married at Wyanga Park Winery.
“It was a most beautiful day, Geoff and Lyndal did such a wonderful job, as did Bob Wolfenbuttel,” Gloden said.
Unfortunately Jim had a fall and spent the last three years of his life at Kalimna Nursing Home. He passed away on August 14 this year.
“I have had so much special support but I really would like to thank my neighbours, Len and Glenys Cheney,” Gloden said.
“I don’t know how I would have coped without them. Also Terry Kavanagh, the president of the Lakes Entrance RSL, has been such a support.
“Jim knew I wanted to go home to Brisbane. I am looking forward to being with my daughters but it will be sad to leave all my friends.
“It will be very hard to leave the house that Jimmy built.”
PICTURED: Well-known Lake Tyers Beach resident, Gloden Mercer, has made the hard decision to move back to Queensland in retirement after a long and successful career in theatre, opera and television.