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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Bob and Dolly Dyer

Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 30.5 cm x 40.5 cm)

Bob Dyer (1909–1984), entertainer, was born in Tennessee and came to Australia in 1937. He began his career playing banjo and singing in a hillbilly show at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre. There, in 1940, he met showgirl Thelma Phoebe McLean (1925–2004), known professionally as Dolly Mack, and married her after a nine-day courtship. Bob started working on radio in 1941, and made eleven commercial 78 rpm singles in 1939–1940, nine of them in Sydney. His numbers included ‘The Ediket Song’, ‘She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain’ and ‘The Pants That My Pappy Gave Me’. During the second half of the war he and Dolly worked as entertainers for Australian and American servicemen. Afterwards, Bob hosted Bob Dyer’s Dude Ranch on ABC radio before premiering the quiz show Pick-a-Box on radio in 1948. In 1957 he and Dolly adapted Pick-a-Box to the new medium of television. The show was to run for 23 years with the Dyers as hosts, earning Bob the second-ever Gold Logie in 1961, and both of them a Special Gold Logie on their retirement in 1971. That year, Bob, who’d retained his US citizenship, was made an honorary OBE and Dolly an MBE. Both were passionate about big game fishing and powerboat racing, and in retirement devoted their lives to watersports in North Queensland.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2003

Accession number: 2003.107

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan

Bob Dyer

Dolly Dyer

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan

Hop, skip, shoot

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

Former NPG Deputy Director, Simon Elliott talks with Ern McQuillan about his life and career as a sports photographer.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.