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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.

Little Pattie, 1966 (printed 2019)

Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image: 40.5 cm x 28.0 cm)

Patricia Thelma Thompson OAM (née Amphlett, b. 1949), better known as Little Pattie, first appeared on Australian television at age thirteen in 1962. At fourteen she began performing as lead singer for The Statesmen, who had a regularly weekly gig at Bronte Surf Club. Signed by EMI, she released her first single – ‘He’s My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy’ – in 1963; it reached #2 on the Sydney charts (pipped for top spot by The Beatles’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’). Her debut album, The Many Moods of Little Pattie, was released in 1964 and the following year she was voted Australian Female Singer of the Year. In 1966, having toured as the support act for Col Joye & the Joy Boys and having made regular appearances on Bandstand and other television variety shows, she became the youngest singer to perform for troops in Vietnam. (She was evacuated from Nui Dat mid-concert in August 1966 when the Battle of Long Tan broke out). After returning home she continued performing, and releasing singles and albums. She was among the singers who recorded the ALP’s 1972 election anthem ‘It’s Time’, and from the late 1970s onwards her repertoire expanded to include country, jazz, swing and show tunes. A compilation album of her sixties hits was released in 2001 and in 2009 she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. She performed for Australian troops in Iraq for Christmas in 2005 and at the Australian War Memorial’s ‘Salute’ to Vietnam veterans in 2006. In addition, she has taught at a number of Sydney high schools and been prominent as a union representative in the entertainment industry, fulfilling executive roles with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Actors’ Equity and the ACTU. Chrissy Amphlett, the late lead singer of The Divinyls, was Little Pattie’s cousin.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2019
© Michael McQuillan's Classic Photographs

Accession number: 2019.66

Currently on display: Gallery Two (Contemporary Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan (age 40 in 1966)

Patricia T. Thompson OAM (age 17 in 1966)

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.