But since Denise’s nasty fall while filming golfing show Holey Moley, things have only become worse.
“My entire left side was battered and bruised. I couldn’t put on a bra or take off a T-shirt. I couldn’t remove the cork from a bottle of bubbly. I couldn’t even drive,” she says, revealing she was marooned at her Queensland home for months while recuperating.
“Basically sitting on my bum that just kept getting bigger! I reckon in the last year and a half I’ve put on maybe 8kg. My ideal weight is 60kg, so I’m on a mission to fight that flab.”
Denise laughs that another breast reduction could be a great way to crash-tackle some wayward weight.
“I had a boob reduction in 2005 and lost several kilos in the process. Mine were huge and very uncomfortable. But in the past 16 years they’ve grown back.”
Denise says her sanity saviours during her Holey Moley recovery were her extended family: sons Peter and Rob, their girlfriends Lauren and Jamie Lee, plus her close friend Jenny Pearce, who moved in to take care of her.
“My beloved Maltese Shih tzu, Mr DD, and Sweetheart, my ragdoll cat, are a constant source of happiness. If ever I feel myself falling into a funk, their zany antics and energetic carry-on snaps me right back out,” Denise confides.
“I’ve always been an animal lover … and couldn’t imagine life without my fur babies. When I welcomed Mr DD into the fold in 2019, Sweetheart was very circumspect … she was like something from a Stephen King novel. But after a few stand-offs, they now get on and both jockey for the best position on my bed.”
Another great thrill was becoming a grandmother for the third time.
“In April Pete and Lauren welcomed Heidi, who is just gorgeous … and I’m secretly overjoyed they had a girl … who joins my grandsons Bodhi, 9, and Xavier, 3.”
Looking back over her stellar 62-year showbiz career, Denise says she feels blessed to still be making audiences laugh.
“I really do. I began dancing as a kid and landed my first TV job when I was 10. At 16 I became Melbourne’s first go-go dancer on a ’60s music TV show called Kommotion. I toured Vietnam with close friend Patti Newton and that remains very poignant.”
In 1974 Denise hit the TV big time as Ernie Sigley’s barrel girl on his variety show.
“That was the start of a fabulous, near 40-year working relationship. Ernie nicknamed me Ding Dong, we recorded an unlikely hit record, Hey Paula, and had decades of laughs.”
Ernie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. “We last worked together in 2013, and I knew something was wrong. His usually razor-sharp memory had slipped dramatically,” she says.
“I saw Ernie a few years ago, and it was very upsetting. We gave each other a huge hug and he said: ‘You remind me of someone.’ I said ‘Denise Drysdale’ and he said ‘Yes, that’s her.’”
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