John Blackman’s wife Cecile is joined by Eddie Maguire, Daryl Somers and Red Symons for the Hey Hey It’s Saturday star’s funeral following harrowing battle with cancer

The who’s who of the Melbourne entertainment community stepped out to attend John Blackman’s funeral on Sunday. 

The legendary Hey Hey It’s Saturday star passed away from a heart attack at his home on June 4 at age 76. 

The veteran broadcaster had undergone minor surgery the day before to have two skin cancers removed. 

Cecile Blackman, his devoted wife, was joined by a roster of A-list supporters, including Eddie Maguire, Daryl Somers and Red Symons.  

Cecile looked immaculate in a black pinstripe blazer paired with black trousers and a simple black top.

She looked understandably grief-stricken as she greeted well-wishers on the day.

John Blackman’s devoted wife Cecile (pictured) was joined by a roster of A-list supporters, including Eddie Maguire, Daryl Somers and Red Symons

Cecile looked immaculate in a black pinstripe blazer paired with black trousers and a simple black top.

Cecile looked immaculate in a black pinstripe blazer paired with black trousers and a simple black top. 

She looked understandably grief-stricken as she greeted well-wishers on the day

She looked understandably grief-stricken as she greeted well-wishers on the day

The legendary Hey Hey It's Saturday star passed away from a heart attack at his home on June 4 at age 76. The veteran broadcaster had undergone minor surgery the day before to have two skin cancers removed. Pictured with his wife in 2018

The legendary Hey Hey It’s Saturday star passed away from a heart attack at his home on June 4 at age 76. The veteran broadcaster had undergone minor surgery the day before to have two skin cancers removed. Pictured with his wife in 2018

Cecile, who was married to John for 52 years, spoke publicly for the first time about her husband’s death earlier this month.

She detailed their precious final moments together, highlighting the deep bond they shared.

John’s battle with health issues had been ongoing. In 2018, he had his jaw removed amid a gruelling fight with cancer, and he underwent brain surgery in 2022.

Cecile, who was married to John for 52 years, spoke publicly for the first time about her husband's death earlier this month

Cecile, who was married to John for 52 years, spoke publicly for the first time about her husband’s death earlier this month  

Despite these challenges, Cecile revealed it was his heart that ultimately caused his death. John had been on heart medication for many years.

‘I think his body just went “Nuh, I am sick of this”, he died of a heart attack, there was no sign of cancer,’ she told the Herald Sun.

Cecile detailed Blackman’s last moments as she told how he went for a five-hour nap after feeling tired from his minor surgery, but woke up with ‘shocking’ chest pain.

Red Symons appeared in good spirits

Red Symons appeared in good spirits 

Hey Hey It's Saturday star Wilbur Wilde was present on the day to show his support. Pictured

Hey Hey It’s Saturday star Wilbur Wilde was present on the day to show his support. Pictured

Entertainment veteran Frankie J Holden was seen chatting to Eddie Maguire

Entertainment veteran Frankie J Holden was seen chatting to Eddie Maguire

Hey Hey It's Saturday host Daryl Somers turned up to show his support

Hey Hey It’s Saturday host Daryl Somers turned up to show his support

Daryl appeared emotional and was seen wiping his face

Daryl appeared emotional and was seen wiping his face

Daryl was later seen carrying puppet Dickie Knee voiced by Blackman

Daryl was later seen carrying puppet Dickie Knee voiced by Blackman

The TV star appeared devastated as he stood among friends and loved ones

The TV star appeared devastated as he stood among friends and loved ones

Australian theatre legend Rhonda Burchmore was also in attendance, dressed in a green suit

Australian theatre legend Rhonda Burchmore was also in attendance, dressed in a green suit

She immediately called the ambulance but Blackman tragically died before they arrived at their home.

She shared: ‘I took him to the couch and laid him down and he died just then, the ambulance arrived in minutes and they did everything they could, at one stage there were eight people here, but his heart just stopped beating.’

Cecile said she was grateful Blackman was at home at the time and told how she and her daughter Tiffany, born in 1974, were given two ‘special’ hours with him after his passing.

Livinia Nixon was also present for the service

Livinia Nixon was also present for the service

‘They wrapped him up warmly and the funeral parlour people asked if we would like to spend time privately with him at home,’ she shared.

‘We asked for two hours and those two hours will be embedded in my brain forever, they were so precious and special and important.’

Cecile also reflected on Blackman’s health struggles and said he never got an official cancer diagnosis, despite having numerous surgeries to remove skin tumours.

The presenter first suffered with severe case of skin cancer known as a basal cell carcinoma in August 2018.

The ‘really aggressive’ cancer was discovered on a routine trip to his doctor to see about an inflamed pimple.

The Hey Hey It's Saturday star's passing was announced on The Morning Show on June 8

The Hey Hey It’s Saturday star’s passing was announced on The Morning Show on June 8

In 2018, Blackman had his jaw removed amid a difficult battle with cancer but Cecile said it was his heart that caused his death, after he had been on heart medication for many years

In 2018, Blackman had his jaw removed amid a difficult battle with cancer but Cecile said it was his heart that caused his death, after he had been on heart medication for many years 

Later that same year, Blackman had a 12-hour operation to remove the cancerous growth on his mouth, and his jaw was substituted with a portion of his thigh bone.

In January 2024, he told how his life changed after the operation, which removed the cancerous tumour but meant he couldn’t work in front of a microphone again.

‘When I went to my surgeon to get the results of the test he said, “Look, John, your life is going to change completely from now on”,’ he told the Herald Sun. 

‘Professionally, financially, emotionally, it is never going to be the same again. You will never work in front of a mic again.’

He bravely told how the gruelling operation couldn’t rob him of his well-known sense of humour despite changing his career.

In 2018, Blackman had his jaw removed amid a difficult battle with cancer and an operation on his brain in 2022, but Cecile said it was his heart that caused his death

In 2018, Blackman had his jaw removed amid a difficult battle with cancer and an operation on his brain in 2022, but Cecile said it was his heart that caused his death

‘Everything the surgeon said has come true. Even now talking to you, it is painful. I can’t do what I love,’ Blackman went on.

‘Thankfully, I still have my sense of humour, they did not remove that.’

JOHN BLACKMAN’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 

1969: Launches his career in radio working on 2GN Goulburn

1971: Joins 3AW in Melbourne as an evening announcer on Nightline

1971: Starts voiceover work on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday, where he would work for almost 30 years as an announcer and doing character voices

1974: Hosts the morning show at 3AK

1975: Joins National Nine News as an announcer and daytime newsreader

1979: Joins 3AK Melbourne to host the breakfast show

1981: Joins 3AW to host the breakfast show with Bruce Mansfield in what was considered to be one of Australia’s most successful radio pairings

1997: After a hiatus from radio, he returns to 3AK Melbourne as a breakfast show host with Anna Pinkus and Denis Donoghue 

2004: Joins Triple M Adelaide 

April 2015: Returns to radio on MAGIC 1278 and MAGIC 882 

Just years after his first surgery, Blackman faced a second battle in 2022 when he had to undergo another life-saving operation on his brain.

Another growth had sprouted ‘in a crater’, a result of one of the removal procedures, and had started to move towards his brain.

Blackman admitted the cancer could have ‘killed’ him and he had a six-hour surgery to remove the ‘aggressive’ tumour, leaving him with a titanium mesh plate in his head.

‘That was the one that could have actually killed me, because it was a very aggressive cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) that was growing right on the top of my noggin,’ he said.

The legendary broadcaster had a hugely successful radio career spanning around 50 years, but was best known for his character voices on the long-running variety TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

Blackman first started his career in the media back in 1969 and went on to become a household name on Australia’s airwaves.

He went from working in sales to launching his radio career at the age of 22 and first worked at 2GN Goulburn as an announcer, newsreader, copy writer and salesman.

Blackman went on to secure a gig at 2CA Canberra before joining 3AW in Melbourne as an evening announcer alongside Reverend Alex Kenworthy on Nightline.

He later moved to Sydney and worked as a staff continuity announcer and daytime newsreader at National Nine News’ program TCN-9.

Then came his famous move to Hey Hey It’s Saturday, where he worked as an announcer and doing the character voices on the show for its entire 28-year run. 

Cecile said she was grateful Blackman was at home at the time of his death and told how she and her daughter Tiffany were given two 'special' hours with him after his passing

Cecile said she was grateful Blackman was at home at the time of his death and told how she and her daughter Tiffany were given two ‘special’ hours with him after his passing 

The broadcaster had a hugely successful radio career spanning around 50 years, but was best known for his character voices on the long-running variety TV show Hey Hey It's Saturday

The broadcaster had a hugely successful radio career spanning around 50 years, but was best known for his character voices on the long-running variety TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday 

Blackman became famous for his rapid-fire wit, incredible sense of humour and hilarious punchlines.

He voiced legendary characters including Angel, Mrs Macgillicuddy, Alfred Desk Mike and Charlie Who, among many more, as he won over legions of fans.

The long-running program was on screens from 1971 until 1999, and went on to have a string of brief relaunches in the early noughties, which Blackman returned for.

Blackman also lent his famous voice to the Hey Hey It’s 100 Years special, which aired in Victoria and South Australia in April 2022.

Hey Hey It’s Saturday was hit by controversy in recent years when Kandiah ‘Kamahl’ Kamalesvaran claimed he was targeted by a series of racist jokes on the program.

On Hey Hey It's Saturday, Blackman (left) voiced legendary characters including Angel, Mrs Macgillicuddy, Alfred Desk Mike and Charlie Who as he won over legions of fans

On Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Blackman (left) voiced legendary characters including Angel, Mrs Macgillicuddy, Alfred Desk Mike and Charlie Who as he won over legions of fans

He said the most offensive skit happened in 1984 when a stage hand covered his face in white powder before presenter Blackman called out off-screen: ‘You’re a real white man now, Kamahl, you know that?’ 

Blackman was also well-known for his role as a breakfast show presenter on 3AW alongside Bruce Mansfield, in what was considered to be one of Australia’s most successful radio pairings. 

After leaving 3AW, he had a seven-year hiatus from radio before returning to 3AK Melbourne as a breakfast show host alongside Anna Pinkus and Denis Donoghue.

Blackman also went on to feature on a string of panel shows including Family Feud, Blankety Blanks and Personality Squares.

His other radio highlights included working on Triple M Adelaide, MAGIC 12778 and Coodabeen Champions on 3UZ.

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