Pat McMinn Profile

Chris Bourke
Published: 22 May 2013
Updated: 28 Mar 2018

Pat McMinn was probably New Zealand’s busiest vocalist in the early 1950s, in concert and on recordings. In fact, she had been in constant demand since winning the Dixieland cabaret’s talent quest in 1942, aged 15. She is best known for two recordings that have rarely been off the airwaves since they were made in the 1950s: The single ‘Opo the Crazy Dolphin’ and the perennial advertising jingle for Geddes dentures.

Born in Gisborne on 9 December 1926, McMinn grew up in Taumarunui, and it was almost inevitable that she would become an entertainer. Her parents played at dances around the King Country, her father on piano and her mother on piano and violin. Her much older brothers played in dance bands, and she first performed on stage at the age of six, as a dancer.

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Pat McMinn and Bill Langford with The Stardusters - Opo, the Crazy Dolphin, written by Crombie Murdoch (Tanza)
Opo the Dolphin on PIctorial Parade No.47, 1956. (NZ On Screen)
Pat McMinn.
Geddes Dental Jingle
Pat McMinn, mid-1930s. As a young dancer she won 300 medals and 100 cups, and she was teaching dance from the age of 16.
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Members of the New Zealand Concert Party Tour in Tokyo, 1956 (l to r) Johnny Cooper, Jean Kirk-Burnnand, Stewart Gordon, Pat McMinn and John Reidy.
Photo credit: National Library of New Zealand Ref: PAColl-10069-2-06
Johnny Cooper and Pat McMinn entertaining in the mess, Korea
The VIPs assemble in 1976, the night the Variety Artists' Club of New Zealand presented Pat McMinn with her Benny Award for services to New Zealand entertainment. From left, Thea and Robert Muldoon PM, Lorna and Lou Clauson, Pat McMinn, Auckland mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson and mayoress, his niece Barbara Goodman. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Pat McMinn visits the 38th Parallel while visiting Korea to entertain New Zealand troops, 1953.
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Pat McMinn with the Crombie Murdoch Trio - 'I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas'
Pat McMinn with Crombie Murdoch and His Rhythm - Bimbo (Tanza)
The New Zealand Concert Party at the 5th Royal Tank Regiment in Korea: Jean Kirk Burnard, John Reidy, Pat McMinn and Johnny Cooper
Pat McMinn during World War Two, at a picnic in Auckland with a member of the US 290th Army Band
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Pat McMinn - a 1970 agent's publicity shot, from Phil Warren's Fullers Bureau
Pat McMinn takes part in a variety show at Patumhoe - 10km NW of Pukekohe - in 1947
Pat McMinn with Johnny Granger and His Rhythm Pals - Let's Live a Little (Zodiac)
While still a teenager, Pat McMinn was a leading vocalist in Auckland cabarets during the Second World War. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Auckland's new song hit ... "Taniwha blues", recorded by Pat McMinn, "The Stardusters" and the Crombie Murdoch Trio (popular TANZA recording artists). Taniwha Blue - it blues as it washes [1956]
‘Opo the Crazy Dolphin’, recorded by Pat McMinn with the Stardusters, was written by jazz pianist Crombie Murdoch and released on Tanza in 1956. 
In 1976, Pat McMinn was awarded a prestigious Benny Award by the Variety Artists' Club of New Zealand. At the presentation, Lou Clauson adjusts the microphone for a speech by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Pat McMinn in 1971. After her years singing, she was well-known as a dance teacher and judge.
Photo credit: Variety Artists Club
Bell Bottom Blues
As well as singing at the Trocadero, McMinn took part in floor shows. She was also part of a singing/dancing duo with Toni Savage, a blind girl who played the accordion. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
Ted Croad’s band at the Orange Coronation Hall, Auckland, late 1940s. From left: Crombie Murdoch, piano; Pat McMinn, vocals; Eddie Croad, drums; Ted Croad; George Campbell, bass; Tommy Simpson, tenor; unknown trumpet; Jim Watters, tenor; Lou Campbell, trumpet; Jim Warren, trumpet; Gordon Lanigan, alto; unknown trombone and tenor.
Photo credit: Jim Warren collection
New Zealand entertainers in Korea, 1953. From left: Ulric Williams, Pauline Ashby, Pat McMinn and Des Begg.
Pat McMinn takes part in a singalong at the New Zealand base camp, Hiro, Korea. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
From Pat McMinn's photo album, early 1940s: "With my hair up for the first time". 
Pat McMinn with the Trocadero band, Auckland, c. 1943. From left: Len Hawkins, Ernie Butters, Bill Egerton, unknown, Pat McMinn, Thomson Yandall and Jimmy Johnson. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
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Tanza