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Thomas Emmett McNamara (c.1919 - 2004)

Tom McNamara aka Tommy Mack

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Tommy Mack Tamworth Honour Roll

This is a photo of Tim McNamara's plaque on the Tamworth Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown. Tim and Tommy were brothers. Tommy receives mention on the plaque for winning the Australian Amateur Hour with Timmy as detailed in the transcription below

AUSTRALASIAN COUNTRY MUSIC
ROLL OF RENOWN
TIM MCNAMARA
TIMOTHY EDMUND MCNAMARA
BORN OCTOBER 10, 1922, ORANGE NSW
DIED APRIL 16, 1983 SYDNEY
WON AUST. AMATEUR HOUR 1945 WITH
BROTHER TOMMY
RECORDED 1945 FOR E.M.I. FROM 1949
HIS HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL 2SM RADIO
PROGRAMME WAS A FOCAL POINT FOR
COUNTRY MUSIC IN THE CITY.
A PIONEER ARTIST AND PROMOTOR. HIS FAMOUS
HALL SHOWS AND TALENT QUESTS LAUNCHED
THE CAREERS OF MANY OF OUR
NATION'S COUNTRY STARS

2TM - 25.1.81

 Click Thumbnail to View Article 

The newspaper this article came from is unknown but it has the feel of a local paper, perhaps The Torch or The Observer, both local Bankstown newspapers. Given that he says in the article that he turns 68 that year, it would have been published c.1987.
P ROFILE

Life's Full of laughs for 'Tommy Mack' by LYNNE DWYER

TOM McNamara, known to all as Tommy Mack, cannot think of a better compliment than being laughed at.
He turns 68 this year, and after a lifetime of strumming the guitar, dressing up in funny clothes, playing the buffoon and making spot appearances in television shows and film, Tommy still cannot give up the addiction of making people laugh.

"My greatest sense of achievement comes from encores for my acts, when the men at the bar are crying with laughter and the women are holding their sides", he said.

Tommy's most recent roles include a small part in A Country Practice, another in the Gillian Armstrong film "Starstruck" and a few memorable roles in television commercials, such as the Lighthouse keeper in the Telecom ad who does not get to the phone in time, a drum major in the Instant Lottery commercial and an old 'geezer' who shouts 'there's going to be a gunfight' for Hubba Bubba chewing gum.

But what the rotund grandfather of 12 is best remembered for is his work in clubs and shows all over the State, making people laugh, telling gags and acting out colorful characters.

Sitting in his Punchbowl backyard hide-out, a converted garage full of trunks of theatrical costumes, mirrors, ukuleles and props, Tommy leans back in an old swivel chair and reminisces on his start in show business.

"It was during the depression, when I was about nine years old, and my younger brother, Tim, needed to get his teeth fixed, that I first got the taste for entertaining people," Tommy mused.

He and another brother, Jack, went out busking from door to door, playing the fiddle and guitar, to collect money for their brother's dental needs.

"If we got threepence, it was like getting a million dollars in those days," he said.

In 1932, the family of 11 children (all of whom played some kind of musical instrument) moved to Wiley Park and Tommy has lived in the area ever since.
When he was 17, and working at the State Railways as a boilermaker, Tommy auditioned as a country and western singer on 2KY radio trials.

"But I was so nervous, I forgot the words of the song and they gave me the gong," he laughed.

Tommy's big break in show business came - of all days - on his wedding day in the September of 1941, when a message came via the corner store that Bob Dyer wanted him to ring him.

He landed a three-month contract recording songs for the Bob Dyer Presents The Solvo Show - a contract which earned Tommy £15 a week when the basic wage was £5.

The money helped the young newlyweds - Tommy and Peggy - pay for a deposit on their Punchbowl home where their six children were raised.

Tommy went on to set up his own theatrical agency, Poverty Point, which booked acts for the Tivoli. He walked the famous boards himself, sang in country road shows and compered tours for the likes of Nev Nicholls, Little Patti, the Joy Boys, and appeared in the Harry Secombe film "Sunstruck".

"I think I first realised my love of laughter when I was doing a show when I had laryngitis, and I tried to yodel," Tommy said.

"Now, I am a really good yodeller, but this time it came out all wrong and the audience just laughed like hell. Well, I thought that was fine."

Although he is retired now, Tommy just can not resist a few casual bookings at local clubs just to keep in touch with the business he loves.

Thomas McNamara aka Tommy Mack Promo

This was a promotional picture used by Tommy. The flyer below was on the back of it.
It's not known in what year he was using it.

Thomas Emmett McNamara aka Tommy Mack Flyer

In his role as a comedian, Tommy had a routine about "snakes hissing in the pit".  He used to always perform this at family parties and no doubt it was part of his stage act for many years.  Some years before he died, he attended an outside broadcast of Ian McNamara's Sunday morning radio show Australia All Over and performed the routine to air with the small exclamation at the end "I made it!"  While it was performed a little bit slower than when he was younger, it still brought the house down.  We believe Ian wanted him to appear on the programme as a regular but Tommy declined.

Ellen and I were listening to the programme at the time and heard this original performance and then on Sunday 3 April, 2005 we were again listening and heard Macca play it again.  The interesting thing about this was that it was almost 12 months to the day after Tommy's death.

An email was sent to Macca to see if a copy of the tape of this broadcast could be obtained.  On 18 August 2005, Macca himself rang to say that unfortunately the tape had gone missing but he would keep looking for it.  He advised that the original broadcast had been in 1989 or 1990 from Townsville.

Ian McNamara is not directly related to Ellen's branch of the McNamara family but Tim McNamara (grandson of Roll of Renown's Tim McNamra (1922 - 1983)) advises that Ian McNamara was a guitarist for ROR's Tim in his early career and regularly played in his travelling band.

Updated : 31 Aug 2012