|Billy T James in the 1980s.|
|The Tropical House at the Winter Gardens – The Auckland Domain.|
Back at friends Justin and Amy’s, I found a book about the great Kiwi comic Billy T James who died just 42 years old in 1991. Word is a biopic is in the works and provided they can find an actor funny enough to play hands-down the funniest New Zealander ever to grace our screens, it will make for a terrific tale.
The years have softened some of the facts of Billy T James’ life. As a kid who missed the Billy T James Show first time around, but saw the reruns in the 90s after he’d died, I never knew he’d suffered numerous death threats at the height of his fame. Bullets were even fired at his home and with arrests never made, speculation still exists whether it was white rednecks or radical Maori who were to blame. Intriguing that a Kiwi who did so much to bring Maori and Pakeha together faced antagonists at opposite ends of the spectrum: the white rednecks who didn’t like seeing a successful, highly paid brown man on the TV every night and the Maori who felt his portrayal of his own race derogatory.
The skits shown in this YouTube clip have always been my absolute favourites of Billy T James. Enjoy.