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Toni Lamond AM

Toni Lamond has had an illustrious career in television and theatre.

Honour Roll

Toni Lamond was born in Sydney on 29 March 1932. Her parents, Stella Lamond and Joe Lawman were theatrical performers in variety and vaudeville, most notably on the Tivoli Circuit. Toni grew up wanting nothing more than to follow them into the 'family business'.

She began as a child performer, aged ten, during World War II, singing on radio and entertaining the troops at military camps and convalescent hospitals. She progressed to variety shows as a regular performer for two years at the Plaza Northcote. This experience as a singer, dancer and appearing in comedy sketches was invaluable. She was then cast in a show starring George Wallace Senior and Gladys Moncrieff. This brought her to the notice of the Tivoli management.

A show starring British comedian Tommy Trinder was due to go into production and Trinder was seeking a 'new discovery' to work with him in his comedy routines. Toni was chosen and at 19 was introduced nightly as 'Australia's youngest leading lady'. She toured Australia and New Zealand for two years with Trinder and at the end of that time married dancer Frank Sheldon. They formed a song and dance act. They appeared in shows at the Theatre Royal Brisbane, when in 1955 Toni took a short leave of absence to give birth to her only son, Tony Sheldon - who has also joined the 'family business'.

During a season at Chequers nightclub in Sydney, Toni and Frank were spotted by someone from J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd. Since the end of the war Williamson's had imported overseas stars along with the overseas musicals and plays they produced. No new Australian stars had been groomed to replace Gladys Moncrieff, Max Oldaker and Don Nichol. In 1956 it was decided to gamble on starring young Australian talent, for the first time in more than a decade, in 'The Pajama Game'.

Toni was cast as the female lead and the show ran for two years. Toni and Frank were booked, for a week before the opening of Pajama Game, for the gala opening of the new Bendigo Street studios of GTV9 - a variety show to be beamed live to air. Toni Lamond and Frank Sheldon were the first act on the bill after the official speeches, making Toni the first Australian woman to appear live on Victorian television.

Toni joined Channel 9 as a regular cast member in 1960 and became the first woman in the world to host a Tonight show. Toni hosted the programme In Melbourne Tonight on Monday nights and continued to work on a variety of television shows. In 1976, she relocated to the United States where she worked consistently in theatre, cabaret and television.

Returning home to Australia in 1996, Toni published the first part of her autobiography called First Half. She has no plans to retire!