Multi-award winning television personality, entrepreneur and businessman, Mike Walsh today heads an expanding and successful entertainment business.
During The Mike Walsh Show years on Networks Ten and Nine, Mike fulfilled a lifelong ambition and developed a diverse range of showbusiness interests through the newly-formed Hayden Group of Companies.
While cinema attendances nose-dived in the face of competition from videos, in 1976 Mike bought The Regent Theatre in Richmond, NSW, which he restored to its former splendor. He believed cinema would experience a revival and went on to build the Hayden Cinema Centre in Penrith, and bought and renovated the Hayden Cinema at Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Peninsula. Audiences began to return to the cinema and, on the tide of this renewed popularity, Mike bought the historic Cremorne Orpheum in December 1986. Mike initially spent $2.5 million on its restoration, and also bought the Collaroy Classic in Sydney’s northern beaches, making Hayden Theatres the then largest independent cinema circuit in NSW, with ten screens. Collaroy, Richmond, Avalon and the two Penrith Centres have now been sold. The Hayden Orpheum now houses six cinemas.
In 1983, in association with American film maker Francis Ford Coppola, he mounted the concert version of Abel Gance’s film epic Napoleon.
Hayden Attractions entrepreneured a number of successful theatrical attractions and, in association with Malcolm C. Cooke, presented Barry Humphries’ Isn’t It Pathetic At His Age; The Kingfisher with Googie Withers, John McCallum and Frank Thring; the original production of Robyn Archer’s A Star Is Torn, and the Broadway musical hit The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.
Mike’s theatrical ventures in the 1980s included the play And A Nightingale Sang at the Sydney Opera House in October 1986, and in 1987 and 1988 the musical Nunsense, which broke box office records across Australia and, at one stage, had three companies running. Mike also produced Nunsense in Dublin, Ireland in 1988. In conjunction with Bill Armstrong and the Victoria State Opera, Mike produced the 1988 Broadway hit Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, which toured the major capital cities from March 1989 to May 1990, and also Auckland, New Zealand in October 1990.
In the early 1990s, Mike established a base in England and, in partnership with West End producer, Helen Montagu, in 1995 produced Prisoner: Cell Block H The Musical on London’s West End. The musical toured Britain in 1996 and 1997.
In November 1999, Mike bought Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. In mid-2000, he commenced major renovations to restore the theatre to being Australia’s number one lyric theatre. Her Majesty’s re-opened in May 2002.
Mike’s other theatrical ventures include The Plumber’s Opera, which he produced in conjunction with Glynn Nicholas’s GBS Productions. He also participated in the production of Zipp in the West End.
In 2008, Mike formed a new production company with Daniel Sparrow, called Hayden Scott Productions. It’s first project was
a co-production with Neal Street Productions of the play Three Days of Rain, starring James McAvoy,
In London’s West End in February 2009.
Hayden Scott Productions co-produced Exit The King on Broadway, starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon;All About My Mother, which played around Europe and beyond; and Holding The Man, starring Jane Turner which played on the West End in 2009.
In March, 2011, Mike presented Umbrellas of Cherbourg, adapted from the film of the same name, and with music by Michel Legrand, at The Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End.
Mike’s first foray as a radio announcer was with Radio 3SR in Shepparton, Victoria. He then went to 3XY in Melbourne, to become the station’s first disc jockey.
In 1962 he was invited by Sydney’s 2SM to help form the legendary “Good Guys”, and his 7.00 – 10.00 p.m. time slot gained the highest ratings on night-time Australian radio since the halcyon days of the late Jack Davey. While at 2SM he won his first television job, compering “10 On The Town”, a national variety programme for the 0/10 Network, which was followed by a satirical variety show, “66 And All That”. Mike maintained his radio programme on 2SM, introducing talk-back radio to Australia, an innovation that tripled the station’s ratings within three months.
He then was invited to Melbourne by Nine to compere an edition of the legendary In Melbourne Tonight, after which he established The Today Show for Nine, and hosted the program for 12 months. Mike then went to Seven Melbourne, where he compered a once a week ‘tonight show’ called The Mike Walsh Show over 3 years. When this finished he worked in England as a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, BBC overseas, and ABC radio, as well as acting, and some lucrative TV commercials! He was then headhunted to return to Australia by Columbia Pictures Screen Gems to host what became the long running daytime program, The Mike Walsh Show.
In 1980, The Mike Walsh Show was awarded the prestigious Television Society’s award for Best Light Entertainment Series, and Mike received their award for Best Current Affairs Interviewer. In the same year he received an O.B.E. for his services to the performing arts and his television show was again singled out for recognition, this time by the United Nations, when it was awarded the ‘Media Peace Prize’ for a special series of programs which looked at the problems immigrants faced as settlers in Australia.
In August, 1987, Mike returned to television to host a twelve week season of one hour talk shows, produced by Hayden Productions in association with ABC Television. In 1989 he did a limited season with Network 10 Australia hosting Superquiz.
In July 1998, Mike made a one-off return to television for the 7 Network, to produce and host The Mike Walsh Show Years, a hugely successful retrospective of the show’s unprecedented domination of its market.
In April 1999, Mike’s contribution to Australian television was recognised with his induction into the TV Week Logies Hall of Fame.
A household name across Australia for over 25 years, Mike Walsh is the only entertainer to receive the gold ‘Sammy’ and gold ‘Logie’ awards in one year. During his highly successful and enduring The Mike Walsh Show, which ran from 1973 to 1985 and was watched by more than five million viewers on 130 stations nationally, on both the Ten and Nine Networks, his team notched up a total of 24 Logies and seven Sammys.
Born in Corowa, NSW, Mike spent his secondary school years at Xavier College in Melbourne, graduating to study Pharmacy and Arts at Melbourne University. Here his interest in showbusiness was kindled when he became heavily involved in university reviews, with Germaine Greer and other contemporaries.
In January 1990, Mike was appointed by the NSW Government a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sydney Opera House and served as a Trustee for six years, the maximum term.
1996 saw the establishment of The Mike Walsh Fellowship, which is awarded each year to NIDA graduates, enabling them to travel abroad for twelve months to obtain a wider knowledge of theatre, film and/or television, and return to Australia to take up their careers with new knowledge.
With interests in Australia and the UK, Mike now divides his time between Sydney, Melbourne and London.