Ian Bruce Turpie (6 November 1943 – 11 March 2012) was an Australian actor and television presenter, best known for hosting the Australia version of the long-running game show The New Price Is Right, as well as playing Keith Warne on Swift and Shift Couriers and Wazza on Housos.
Born in Melbourne in 1943, Turpie began his entertainment career at the age of 10, when he was accepted at the Hector Crawford Drama School and gained recognition as a juvenile actor working in radio and theatre. He starred in a number of radio programmes alongside Sir Robert Helpmann and June Bronhill, and appeared in the Hector Crawford radio series D24', recorded at the 3DB studios in Melbourne and broadcast nationally over the Major Broadcasting Network.
During his teens, he discovered a passion for music and focused on playing guitar, songwriting and singing. By the age of 16, Turpie was a seasoned radio and stage performer, touring Australia in such hits as Peter Pan, Auntie Mame and Bye Bye Birdie, and appearing in several National Theatre productions including Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Television and personal life
Television soon beckoned; in 1964, Turpie played a student shot dead in a mock bank robbery in the opening scene to the debut episode of the iconic Crawford police series Homicide, having earlier appeared in a featured guest role in an episode of the courtroom drama Consider Your Verdict.
Turpie made regular appearances on Bandstand, Time For Terry and The Graham Kennedy Show. Turpie's talents as musician and compere were recognised at 21, when he replaced Johnny O'Keefe for a stint as national television compere on Sing Sing Sing. He was subsequently chosen to host the top-rating teenage variety show The Go!! Show from mid 1965 until the end of 1966. He was an early boyfriend of Olivia Newton-John, with whom he had starred in the 1965 Australian musical telefilm Funny Things Happen Down Under, Newton-John's debut performance.
In the 1970s, Turpie moved to Sydney to work the club circuit, and continued to make guest appearances on numerous television shows including The Mike Walsh Show, The Bert Newton Show, A Guy Called Athol and the ABC variety series Follies.
In the 1980s, Turpie became a nationwide figure as host of the highly successful, frenzied game show The New Price Is Right. This was followed by other game shows including Press Your Luck and Supermarket Sweep.
In the 1990s, Ian developed cult status following a regular four-year stint as Club President on Roy & HG's Club Buggery. Known as the "Giant of the G Chord", he performed renditions of such classics as Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, and, complete with suspenders, The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Time Warp. Less serious Club Buggery appearances in Turps about the House, Captain Ajax and Sam Stain showcased his comedic talents, as did a semi-regular role as cabaret-style singer Rolan Fields in drama series Always Greener (2001–03). From 2000 he acted in Pizza and had a lead role in Housos as Wazza Jones, who was also the program's narrator. He also played the role of Depot Manager Keith Warne in Swift and Shift Couriers seasons one and two.
In 2004 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action against Turpie for misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of the Trade Practices Act. The ACCC alleged that Turpie had made false claims (that he was losing his sexual potency) in advertisements for an erectile dysfunction treatment spray from the Australian Medical Institute.
In 2005 Turpie pleaded guilty to drink driving after driving in Manly, New South Wales, with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 (the legal limit in the state is 0.05). He was fined $867 and had his drivers licence suspended for six months; however this was overturned on appeal. After taking into account Turpie's charity work and his need to drive to work, Judge Reg Blanch ordered that no conviction be recorded. Turpie told reporters he was sorry for doing a "stupid thing".
On 18 February 2011 it was announced that Turpie, a heavy smoker, had been diagnosed with cancer. He died on 11 March 2012, aged 68. When The Price is Right debuted its reboot in 2012, host Larry Emdur dedicated the first episode in memory of Turpie.
Turpie was married to his wife Jan for 44 years and had three children and three grandchildren.
- Mo Award Hall of Fame (2011)
- Penguin Award, Best Light Entertainment, The New Price Is Right (1985)
- Logie Award, Most Popular Western Australia Show, Turpie Tonight (1983)
- Penguin Award, Best Light Entertainment, The New Price Is Right (1982)
- "Cancer-stricken Ian Turpie takes a place in the Mo Awards Hall of Fame". news.com.au. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- Funny Things Happen Down Under, as Lennie (1965)
- Heaven's Burning, cameo as used car salesman (1997)
- All the Way (1998)
- Somewhere in the Darkness, as the Weatherman (1998)
- Kissing Kimberley Cooper (Tropfest film)
- Consider Your Verdict (1964) 1 episode
- Homicide (1964) 1 episode
- The Magic Boomerang (1965) 1 episode
- Always Greener as Rolan Fields (2002–2003) 6 episodes
- Swift and Shift Couriers as Keith Warne (2008, 2011) 19 episodes
- Double the Fist as M.C (2008) 1 episode
- Housos as Wazza (2011)
- Club Buggery, ABC (1996-1997)
- The Go!! Show
- Sing, Sing, Sing (replacing Johnny O'Keefe)
- Surprise, Surprise - co-host with Tommy Hanlon Jr
- Supermarket Sweep, Nine Network (1992-1994)
- Time for Terry co-host with Terry O'Neill
- Turpie Tonight
- The Newlyweds Game, Network Ten (1968), Nine Network (1987)
- The New Price Is Right (1981–1986)
- The Price Is Right (1989)
- Press Your Luck, Seven Network (1987–1988)
- The Young Entertainers
- This is your Life (with Mike Munro)
- Love is in the Air
- Long Way to the Top
- All the Way
- Theatre Royal
- Revue 7
- Bandstand (Brian Henderson)
- Steve Vizard Tonight
- Bert Newton Show
- Blankety Blanks (Graham Kennedy)
- Family Feud (Rob Brough)
- The Fat (Tony Squires)
- Mike Walsh Show
- Don Lane Show
- Hey Hey It's Saturday (Daryl Somers)
- Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
- Celebrity Wheel of Fortune
- Penthouse Club (Mary Hardy)
- A Guy Called Athol
- ABC Follies
- The Melbourne Show
- Supermarket Sweep
- Spicks & Specks
- We'll Call You
- Peter Pan, Princess Theatre
- Nude with Violin (with Sir Robert Helpmann), Comedy Theatre
- Auntie Mame (with Shirl Conway), Princess Theatre
- MacBeth, National Theatre
- Bye Bye Birdie, Her Majesty's Theatre
- Rock Opera — Hero, Seymour Centre (with Graham Bond)
- Rock Opera — Jesus Christ Superstar (with Marcia Hines & John English), St George Leagues Club
- Bull and Bush Theatre Restaurant Show Bubble & Squeak (with Noel Ferrier & Jill Perryman)
- appeared in some episodes of the Crawford Productions' D24, broadcast nationally on the Major Broadcasting Network
- ABC Play "Five Find Outers"
- Evening Host 2CH
- Turps is the Talk of the Town
- Decimal point (1967) (For the decimalisation of New Zealand)
Turpie was involved with the following charities: Australia Day ambassador (since 1995), Make a Wish Foundation, Merry Makers, Sunnyfield Association, Meningococcal Association, Children with Cancer, Lifeforce, Sydney Children's Hospital (Celebrity Golf Days), Alzheimer's Australia NSW and Rotary Club.