Malcolm Andree was born in 1933, the youngest son of a family of three boys and three girls. Like father like son, his career in show business was inspired by his father Donovan Andree who was a legendary sports promoter.
Donovan strived to bring the best of entertainment to Sri Lanka by promoting many singers and bringing international acts to our audience. He has helped artistes such as Cliff Foendander, Bill Forbes and the great Erin de Selfa who rose to international fame. He also encouraged many sports. Growing up and watching his father, Malcolm also decided to follow in the same footsteps.
Malcolm took over supporting sports netball at Stadium SC after his father’s demise. He also went on to launch many radio as well as stage shows. His very first show was ‘Melody Damour’ for the Ceylon American Youth Society.
Malcolm produced the show ‘A Certain Smile’. The signature song in it was sung by Heather Crake, Loreta Ohlmus and Keen Hangier. It was originally sung by ‘The Johns Boys’. Bob Harvey compered the show and the band members were Harold Seneviratne, Gerry Crake, Erlene Peck and Patrick Nelson. Lauren Grahaem, Noeline Honter, Dalrene Suby, Pat Clyde, The Jay Brothers, Denzil and Vasco duo, Denis Roberts, Sharmine Andrado, Doreen Steuwart, Lylie Godridge, Gerry Crake and Dudley Perera were other members of his show.
Even though he was the producer and the shows cost much of his effort, enegry and charisma, Malcolm didn’t do it for the money. He did it for the enjoyment he gained as he found the voices of these singers and the music of this time just wonderful. As the story goes, he was only paid 250 Rupees for producing the show and when Bob Harvey asked how he survived on such a low sum his jovial response was “I do it for the fun kicks”.
Malcolm Andree many other radio shows including sponsoured shows such as Elasto (S.L.Marketing Services), Talent Show and Star’s of Lanka. His voice was heard over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon regularly as he compered in many shows.
At the request of Kandy showman E.W.Balasooriya in 1959, Malcolm started producing stage shows. The beginning of English shows were in the early 1960s and later on oriental shows were produced with the help of Jayatissa Hettiarachchi. ‘Holiday on Ice’ was one of his most acclaimed shows.
Many artists of his time credit Malcolm Andree for bringing them into the pop music world. Through his shows and acting as the entertainment manager at the Stadium, he brought the best of entertainment to the audience and livened their spirits through his engaging and lively personality. Many famous stars of the time such as La Ceylonians, Three Sisters, Saman de Silva, M.S. Fernando, H.R. Jothipala, Sujatha Attanayake, Nuwan Gunawardena, Derrick de Silva, Kumudini (The Rimbo girl) and the duo of the famous Jet Liners fame Tony Fernando and his wife Mignonne performed in his shows.
People knew and loved him for his voice, his passion for show business and sports. His endearing personality, charisma and the energy he portrayed throughout his professional life, his enthusiasm for the people and the art they promoted, stands as a reminder that great feats can be achieved when one sets his mind to it.
He rallied forth fueled by an undying spirit till he passed away in 2014 at the age of 81. He and his father are both hailed as legends in show business for the contribution they made and are remembered dearly by all in his great era.
WRITTEN BY THARAKA RANCHIGODA
EDITED BY NADEESHA PAULIS