NZ television icon Max Cryer dies at age 86

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One of the first stars of New Zealand television, Max Cryer has died at the age of 86.

Max Cryer

Max Cryer Photo: supplied

An entertainer, producer, broadcaster and journalist of great versatility, Cryer was one of the first stars of New Zealand television.

He spoke the first words on nationwide TV in 1969, and was host and producer of the first live talk-variety show in 1975.

New Zealand’s first TV quizmaster on the show Top Mark, he later produced Mastermind and University Challenge.

“Max was an icon and a trailblazer and will be sorely missed,” New Zealand media personality David Hartnell told 1NEWS.

Educated in Vienna and Italy and at Auckland University, Cryer started his career in the 1960s as a cabaret singer in Australasia, the Far East and the United States.

Among his many memorable moments was performing in a mock ventriloquist act with singer Ray Columbus in 1969.

He made numerous appearances on radio as a singer and raconteur, and starred in stage productions of My Fair Lady, The Merry Widow, The Pirates of Penzance, Die Fledermaus and The King and I.

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He was director of New Zealand entertainment for Expo in Brisbane in 1988 and Seville in 1992.

He also spent time overseas, where he had memorable encounters with celebrities from Mae West to Sophia Loren.

Cryer received numerous awards including New Zealand entertainer of the year in 1974.

Tributes were being paid to him on social media tonight.

An English language expert, Cryer wrote several books on the subject including the Godzone Dictionary – a guide to speaking like a Kiwi.

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He died yesterday at an Auckland rest home.

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