Well known NZ entertainer dies suddenly
02 Oct 2008
One of New Zealand’s best known entertainers, Rob Guest, has died in Melbourne.
The 58-year-old who received the OBE in 1994 for his services to the New Zealand entertainment industry collapsed at his home on Tuesday night and died peacefully in hospital this morning (Oct 2), surrounded by his family and friends.
Guest had been starring in the new musical 'Wicked' and performed as the Wizard of Oz just two days before his death. It was Guest's 40th lead role in a brilliant international career that started on New Zealand Television.
Great Kiwi bloke
Tributes have been pouring in for the 'great Kiwi bloke' who rose to pop fame in the 1970s on the NZ television show 'Happen In' and went on to perform in the United States and then Australia.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark expressed her deep sadness at Guest's death.
"Our sympathies are with his family and friends on this sad day," she said. "For many years Rob Guest has inspired many New Zealand and Australian audiences with his remarkably powerful performances. He touched many lives and will be sadly missed."
Guest was the world's longest serving 'Phantom' having played the 'Phantom of the Opera' role a record 2289 performances over seven years in front of Australian and New Zealand audiences.
His other best known lead parts were as Jean Valjean in 'Les Misérables', Captain Von Trapp in 'Sound of Music', Jesus Christ in 'Jesus Christ Superstar', Joseph in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', and Pippin in the show of the same name.
'Wicked' publicist Sandra Roberts said the cast would be ''devastated'' by Guest's death. "He's been a mentor to most of the cast behind the scenes, almost like a fatherly figure," she said.
Emotion and imagination
Well known New Zealand musician and talent scout Gray Bartlett, who has been in the entertainment industry for 50 years, said it was a sad loss of a man he had known since the 1970s.
"He always had a great smile, a great enthusiasm and a tremendous charm and charisma.
"I think the thing that was really key to him being successful - and he was really successful and probably one of New Zealand's greatest ever theatrical performers - was the fact that he had the two ingredients that make a great performer.
"That is the ability to convey his emotion on stage and to show his fantastic imagination for his work."
Rob Guest is survived by his partner Kellie Dickerson and two teenage children.
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