Ray Woolf

Actor, Performer

Ray Woolf’s career as a performer spans from rock’n’roll to jazz, including touring shows of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Sound of Music. Born in England, but New Zealand-based since the early 60s, Woolf’s television work includes singing, acting, and hosting his own talk show. He was New Zealand Entertainer of the Year in 1975.

Series

The Ray Woolf Show/The New Ray Woolf Show

Television, 1979–1981

By the mid 1970s, Kiwi entertainer Ray Woolf was a regular television presence as a performer and host. After a stint co-hosting chat show Two on One (with Val Lamont and later Davina Whitehouse), the show morphed in 1979 into Woolf’s own singing and talk slot: The Ray Woolf Show, where he interviewed international stars, and sung and filmed clips around the country. After a season the show was reformatted to focus on music as The New Ray Woolf Show, and ran for another two years. In this period Woolf was awarded Best Television Light Entertainer multiple times.

The Ray Woolf Show - Christmas Special

Television, 1979 (Full Length Episode)

In 1979 entertainer Ray Woolf went from co-hosting Two for One to his own chat show. This wide-ranging 'best of' episode from the end of the first season takes in bloopers, the victims of the Amityville Horror, Doctor Who Jon Pertwee,  Gomer Pyle Jim Nabors, Norman Gunston, Alan Whicker, Frankie Howerd, Derek Nimmo, Diana Dors, Austin Mitchell, poet Pam Ayres, humorist Erma Bombeck and singer Billy Daniels — plus Kiwis Ricky May, Ian Fraser (on piano), Tina Cross, Selwyn Toogood and Precious McKenzie. Woolf, was judged 1979 TV Light Entertainer of the year.

Penny Lane - performed by Ray Woolf

Television, 1985 (Excerpts)

By the mid 1980s, performer Ray Woolf had been a pop star, Play School presenter, Entertainer of the Year winner, presented his own TV show, and promoted Bic lighters in an ad campaign with Howard Morrison.  Here, accompanied by dancers, he performs an abbreviated version of the Paul McCartney penned classic 'Penny Lane' (a rare Beatles single not to top the British charts). The song's nostalgic "blue suburban skies" are transplanted from Liverpool to Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, as part of a variety show celebrating 25 years of television in New Zealand.

Interview

Ray Woolf: From Pop-a-Long to King Kong...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Veteran entertainer Ray Woolf has appeared on television and film as a pop singer, song and dance man, TV host and actor. Starting out as a singer, Woolf made a splash on television in the swinging 60s music shows C’mon and Happen Inn. His career took an unusual direction when he turned up as co-host on the long-running children’s show Play School. Showing his versatility as a performer, Woolf also hosted his self-titled chat show The Ray Woolf Show, and has appeared in a number of TV dramas such as Xena, Marlin Bay, Street Legal, The Strip, and Nothing Trivial.

Collection

25 Years of Television

Curated by NZ On Screen team

In 1985 Television New Zealand went all out to celebrate the 25th anniversary of local TV. Three specials marked the occasion. Two-parter 25 Years of Television was the most comprehensive: in part one, newsreader Dougal Stevenson chronicled the path from the one channel days of the 1960s, to a second channel in 1975 (TV3 didn't launch until 1989). A variety show (see musical excerpts below) — also called 25 Years of Television — featured performances by everyone from Dinah Lee to Ray Woolf. Lastly Network New Zealand went behind the scenes at TVNZ.

Sir Howard Morrison - Time of My Life

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

Ol’ Brown Eyes celebrates 40 years in showbiz with this variety concert, alongside some of his mates including Ray Columbus and Bunny Walters. The show is mostly live entertainment, punctuated by a few nostalgic field stories where Sir Howard acknowledges his upbringing and Māoritanga. The show ends with the Morrison whānau performing, followed by the hymn that gave Sir Howard a number one hit in 1982: ‘How Great Thou Art’.  This TV special was dedicated to Sir Howard’s mother Kahu, who was an outstanding singer in her own right.

Opportunity Knocks - 1975 Final

Television, 1975 (Full Length Episode)

This 1970s talent show was a popular light entertainment programme for new channel TV2. It followed in the television footsteps of New Faces and Studio One, with wannabe stars mostly covering popular classics. The buzzers and tough judges of X Factor are decades away. This final from the 1975 season, filmed at Christchurch’s Civic Theatre, sees contestants cover everything from country and western to cabaret. Promoter Trevor Spitz awards record contracts, and talent co-ordinator Ray Columbus joins host Rhys Jones to announce the winner.

Royal Variety Performance Show 1981

Television, 1981 (Full Length)

This live TV spectacular documents an 18 October 1981 Royal Variety performance in front of the touring Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh. Performers in St James Theatre included Ray Columbus (in That's Country mode), Sir Howard Morrison and John Rowles. Dance is represented by Limbs and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, while McPhail and Gadsby and Billy T James deliver pre-PC gags. There’s a show stopping all-singing all-dancing finale, and what seems like the entire roster of NZ showbiz of the time lines up to greet the Queen, including Lynn of Tawa.

Rip It Up - performed by Tom Sharplin

Television, 1985 (Excerpts)

Tom Sharplin was the face of rock'n'roll revival in 1970s and 80s New Zealand. In 1980 his group won Group of the Year, and soon after they featured in popular TV show Rock Around the Clock. Here, for the finale of a gala to celebrate 25 years of Kiwi television, he performs rock classic 'Rip it Up' (first made famous via Little Richard, and later inspiration for the name of the NZ music mag). "Shag it on down to the union hall" run the lyrics; Sharplin — with help from Ray Columbus, Ray Woolf and many more — swings his hips and rips, shakes, rocks and rolls up the Michael Fowler Centre.