Harold Charles Sydney Heylen (25 May 1923 – 4 December 1996), credited as Syd Heylen, Sid Heylen and Sydney Heylen, was an Australian character actor (radio, stage, television and film), comedian, and variety performer. Best known as publican "Cookie" Locke in television serial A Country Practice, he often performed in a traditional vaudeville style in the vein of Roy Rene, and also sang and played banjo and ukulele.
Harold Charles Sydney Heylen
25 May 1923
Renmark, South Australia
|Died||4 December 1996 73) (aged|
|Other names||Sydney Heylen|
|Occupation||actor (radio, stage, television and film)|
(m. 1944; div. 19??)
(m. 1961; his death 1996)
He went into vaudeville after World War II and in 1956 starred in the variety show "The Show of Stars" with Hal Lashwood and John Ewart. Heylen became well known during the 1960s on television as a regular performer on the HSV-7 variety show Sunnyside Up in Melbourne for 10 years, appearing as "Sydney from Sydney". He teamed up with other comics, such as Honest John Gilbert, presenting comedy sketches in between the musical items.
Heylen was born in Renmark, South Australia as the only son of a carpenter. He joined the army at 16 and served on the Kokoda Trail in the 39th Infantry Battalion, later going on to join an army entertainment troupe. In 1961, he married Patti Brittain (his second wife) and they had two children (both in the entertainment industry) - a daughter, Julie Heylen, and a son, Syd Heylen Junior, who is a well known entertainer in variety and cabaret.
Heylen appeared in numerous smaller television series roles including Matlock Police, Homicide, Division 4, and Alvin Purple, but remains best known for his permanent and long running role as Vernon "Cookie" Locke, a chef and barman in the Australian television series A Country Practice, a role he played from 1982 until 1992. He was cast as Cookie on A Country Practice after the series creator and executive producer James Davern saw him in the TV series Arcade. Heylen was written out of the series in 1992 alongside another older cast member Gordon Piper (who played Cookie's mate Bob Hatfield) as the producers wanted to concentrate on a younger cast and an updated formula. Davern would later regret dropping Cookie and Bob, as they were two of the show's central characters who provided many of the comedy scenes between the more dramatic storylines.
Heylen played a minor role in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior as Curmudgeon.
In the 1980s he released a number of albums containing songs such as "Who's Sorry Now?" (to which the D-Generation quipped "anyone who bought the album".)
After he left A Country Practice in 1992, he and his wife Patti retired to their Gold Coast home, he would occasionally do public appearances and performances. He died in Queensland on 4 December 1996,from a stroke.
Syd Heylen was a patron and performer for the Variety Club Australia, where he was awarded as The First National Treasure.
Selected Television and film credits
- 1976: Caddie - Billy
- 1977: Listin to the Lion - Hunter's Friend
- 1980: Arcade (TV Series) - Walter Blair
- 1980: Stir - Old Bob
- 1981: A Town Like Alice (TV Mini-Series) - Art Foster
- 1981: Mad Max 2 - Curmudgeon (old man at the refinery)
- 1982: Starstruck - Pub Regular
- 1982: Ginger Meggs - Stablehand
- 1982-1992: A Country Practice (TV Series) - Vernon "Cookie" Locke