Farewell Ken Delo

Ken at home and at the piano while wife, Marilyn, takes a call (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).
Ken at home and at the piano while wife, Marilyn, takes a call (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).

I’m sad to write that Ken Delo, one half of the comedy duo Delo & Daly, passed away in early February. If you were in Australia in the early ‘60s, Americans Ken and Jonathan Daly were among the biggest stars on TV. They arrived in 1960 and began appearing on GTV-9’s In Melbourne Tonight and The Graham Kennedy Show. Delo and Daly also had their own specials sponsored by Shell, Heinz, and other companies, which led to interesting titles like In the Soup; in fact, their Australian TV debut was on The BP Super Show. Eventually, Ken and Jonathan had their own series, The Delo & Daly Show on HSV-7. Ken and Jonathan’s shows and specials aired nationally, and so they were truly among the first stars of the burgeoning medium.

Ken on the cover of TV Week (Chris Keating private collection).
Ken on the cover of TV Week (Chris Keating private collection).
Jonathan on the cover of TV Times (Chris Keating private collection).
Jonathan on the cover of TV Times (Chris Keating private collection).

Delo & Daly were also very successful on the nightclub scene all over Australia, with a legendary stay at the Savoy Plaza on Little Collins Street (it’s still there; I stayed at the now Vibe Savoy in October last year), as well as appearances at Chequers and Lennons Broadbeach Hotel (sadly, neither remains, although I believe the building for the first is still on Goulburn Street in Sydney).

After the team returned stateside in 1964, Jonathan went on to appear on Bewitched, Petticoat Junction, and a raft of other series and movies, while Ken had a long, successful run on The Lawrence Welk Show. In recent years, he wrote a science fiction-horror novel, The Frozen Horror, and the heartwarming, The Ugly Little Christmas Tree.

Ken in The Lucy Show in 1966.
Ken in The Lucy Show in 1966.
Ken inadvertently gives Lucy an idea for a scheme in The Lucy Show.
Ken inadvertently gives Lucy an idea for a scheme in The Lucy Show.

I interviewed Jonathan last year for a retrospective of his career. I was hoping to do the same with Ken.

A poodle lover? A man after my own heart (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).
A poodle lover? A man after my own heart (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).

During my preparation for Jonathan’s interview, I had the pure joy of watching several of Ken and Jon’s The Delo & Daly Show episodes held by the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, and sent over to Adelaide for me to view at the State Library of South Australia. In glorious black and white, I got to watch Ken and Jonathan perform in fast-paced comedy sketches and parodies, the extended regular segment “Let’s Talk”, duet on popular songs, of which “Teamwork” was naturally one, and enjoy themselves as much as the audience.

Ken and Jonathan share a laugh on set at The Delo & Daly Show (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).
Ken and Jonathan share a laugh on set at The Delo & Daly Show (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).
Ken on the set of the afternoon series, Ken and Jonathan (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).
Ken on the set of the afternoon series, Ken and Jonathan (Photographer: Laurie Richards. Susie Gamble private collection).

Ken was a beautiful singer, and as Jonathan told me “a masterful straight man” in their double act. When Ken started one of his many solo performances and I heard those distinct lines, “The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay/The glory that was Rome is of another day”, I got chills. Who hasn’t left their heart in San Francisco?

From all accounts Ken was a very lovely man, loving husband to Marilyn and loving father to their two children, and a friend of Jonathan’s until the end. Ken left an indelible mark on television in this country. Perhaps his words when describing The Ugly Little Christmas Tree reflected his philosophy for life where, “The story proves that in the right place, at the right time, and if you go for it, you can succeed”. When I was in Melbourne late last year, and right in the middle of writing my article, I imagined the Melbourne of another time, with Ken and Jonathan rehearsing at the HSV-7 Teletheatre on Johnson Street in Fitzroy, or writing together at the flat they shared in Toorak down the road from where the famous nightclub The Embers once stood.

Thank you, Ken, for making sweet music and timeless comedy.

With thanks to Jon Daly. Susie Gamble, who provided many of the photos for this post, runs a Facebook Group devoted to The Go!! Show, a production of D.Y.T., which was also responsible for Ken and Jonathan’s Channel 7 shows.

26 thoughts on “Farewell Ken Delo

  1. Thank you so much for writing this wonderful account of Ken Delo’s career. I was happy to call Ken and Marilyn friends. Attended his funeral. I will share with all Welk Show fans
    On Welknotes fb pg

    1. Thanks so much for you comment, Gay, and for sharing the link on the Welknotes Group on Facebook. It’s lovely to see the love and appreciation of Ken and his work there. Adam 🙂

  2. Shirley and Jeff Lawrence have known Ken and Marilyn since the early 60’s, along with Ken’s brother, Tom. Tom and I (Jeff) met while singing at the famous “HORN” in Santa Monica, California. I knew Ken before the Lawrence Welk Show and was glad to hear of his success with Welk. I lost contact with Ken around the 80’s, mostly due to my moving around entertaining in different States. Oh, how sad we were to hear of Ken’s passing. I had been trying to find where he and Marilyn were living but had no luck. Ken was a SUPER , first class guy and I sure wish we could have talked to one another just one more time. May God be with him forever.

    1. Jeff, what a lovely note. I will forward it to someone who knows Marilyn.

      And thanks for turning me on to The Horn. I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of this nightclub, but as soon I was Googled it, I saw a virtual who’s who of ’60s music and comedy! Adam 🙂

      1. Jeff Just talked to Marilyn Delo she was so happy
        when I told her. pS Tom in Michigan
        Adam pls give me Jeffs email thanks

  3. Just watching a Lawrence Welk rerun and googled Ken who was one of my very favorites…..How charming and entertaining especially when singing to the audience ladies…and a great voice…I’m 85 and “rounding third” ….first I must care for my 63 year married sweetheart…I was saddened to read of Ken’s passing earlier this year…RIP

    1. Hi Dick, thank you for stopping by. I’m glad you remembered Ken. His passing has, indeed, saddened a lot of people. 63 years! – all good wishes to you and your sweetheart. Be well. Adam 🙂

  4. Hi Dick
    63 years how wonderful you and your wife have been together so long.
    This June 30th Ken Delo and his wife would have been married 60 years.

  5. Ken Delo was always a joy to watch on Lawrence. I also saw him on tv in Australia many moons ago. His passing is a great loss to the world. God bless him!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Kaylyn. Ken was so loved and his work enjoyed (and still enjoyed) by many people. I love that he had an important part to play in my country’s early television. Adam 🙂

      1. I’m watching Ken Delo on The Lawrence Welk show right now in Alabama! I love him. I even have one of his meditation tapes.

        1. Hi Andrea, thanks for stopping by here to remember Ken. It’s great that PBS carries the show in so many U.S. states. I didn’t know Ken had a meditation tape – do you know when it is from/which one? Adam 🙂

          1. I will look at it and let you know. I have to think a bit to remember where in the world I got it!

  6. Adam
    I finally found my cassette of Ken Delo’s Andrea mentioned. It is called Stop Stress Now…A Self Help Method Of Total Relaxation.
    Ken was a Clinical Hypnotherapist also.
    Self Help Method of Total Relaxation

    1. He used to have a website where you could order the tapes. He told Mary Lou Metzger about it when she was interviewing him after the Lawrence Welk broadcast on PBS – here in the states there is usually an interview with one of the Welk stars following the show. Ken told her how he had become a hypnotherapist.
      Adam, you might could write to KimKev Records(named after his children) and get a copy! I can send you the info that is on my tape, if you are interested. I’ll try posting a picture of it, too.

      1. Hi Andrea,
        Thanks for this. Given my background is in psychology, I’ll see if I can track down the tape. If you can post a picture, that would be great. I’ve had some contact with Kevin and Kimberly Delo, so I might ask them if they have a copy. Thanks again, Adam 🙂

        1. I will send you a picture of the tape and insert. I don’t know that I know how to post a pic on this site!! Do you have a Facebook page or a regular email address where I could send it?

    2. Hi Gay, I thought if someone would know, it would be you! I’m going to look into getting a copy. I’ve been engaging in some mindfulness and stress relaxation exercises of late, and if Ken’s manner on the tape is anything like his singing voice, I’m sold. Adam 🙂

  7. I was in Melbourne and remember Delo and Daly from their first appearances on “In Melbourne Tonight” and enjoyed them through the years until Ken Delo (ostensibly homesick I recall they said) returned to the U.S. Jonathan Daly remained for a couple more years taking on more of a Johnny Carson role in “Daly at Night” that ran in competition with “In Melbourne Tonight”.
    It was therefore fun to find Ken Delo as a regular in the “Lawrence Welk Show” when I settled in the U.S. He was a great entertainer.

    1. Hi Will, thanks for your comments. Jonathan says that all these years later Australians still come up to him in the U.S. – such was the impact of their pairing. Adam 🙂

  8. Adam, Ken has been on my mind so much recently….so very strongly, that I googled him and found he has passed on. I wish I had known sooner. He was a very special friend. We spent (Marilyn too) many hours together at the Academy Playhouse, a little theatre group in Michigan. We met and acted in many shows together in both musicals and dramas. We kept in touch when he returned to the US with Jonathan Daly. I, too, had come out to CA to be in show business. We would go out on interviews together. He was like a brother to me and watched out for me. I didn’t pursue a career in show business. I met my prince charming and settled down to raise a family. In later years when he moved to AZ, he would call me periodically and we would chat about the old days and also what he was working on at the time either writing or maybe producing a show of the old days with Jonathan. I have a CD of the Delo & Daly show and also of his sweet Christmas Story. And he sent me his “Stop Stress Now With Ken Delo” cassette when I was apprehensive about a long flight to Europe. He shared his love of writing with me and I also have a copy of the sci-fy book he wrote, “The Frozen Horror”. He was a great friend. I miss him.

    1. Hi Ellie, so wonderful to read your memories. I love to hear about theater companies and early television. It sounds like you and Ken had a very special relationship. I know a couple of people who post here are in touch with Marilyn – if you don’t have her details and would like to make contact, I’m sure they’d be happy to help. Adam 🙂

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