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Dollar Bill Turns 50 Years Old

The Role of Dollar Bill

The animated character of Dollar Bill appeared in a series of advertisements to explain decimal currency and help Australians adjust to this major change. He was the face of one of the most successful public awareness campaigns in the nation’s contemporary history.

A nationwide public education program was designed to both inform and prepare Australians for the new currency system. As the change would affect all members of the community - from shopkeepers and business owners to school-age children - the education program needed to be engaging and accessible. Central to the program was an innovative television commercial in which Dollar Bill told people to ‘be prepared’, explained the concept of decimal currency, illustrated how calculations would be done, described the benefits of the new system and showed people the new banknotes and coins.

Dollar Bill was created by Monty Wedd and drawn by animator Laurie Sharpe. Dollar Bill and his catchy decimal currency conversion jingle (sung to the tune of the Australian folksong 'Click Go the Shears', with lyrics by Ted Roberts) were an instant hit. The commercial featured the voices of actors Kevin Golsby as Dollar Bill and Ross Higgins as Mr Pound.

In addition to the television advertisements, a wide range of brochures and leaflets were issued explaining the conversion to decimal currency, the changeover arrangements and the effects of the new system on the price of various goods and services. Other educational material included games and play money for use by school students and money handlers.

Currency Conversion Jingle

‘Out with the old and in with the new’(Lyrics by Ted Roberts)

In come the dollars and in come the cents
To replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
On the 14th of February 1966

Clink go the cents, folks clink, clink, clink
Changeover day is closer than you think
Learn the value of the coins and the way that they appear
And things will be much smoother when the decimal point is here

In come the dollars and in come the cents
To replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
On the 14th of February 1966.

The Life of Dollar Bill

As part of the public education campaign, Dollar Bill was given an identify. A story about his fictional life was created. And as his persona was embraced by the public, he even developed a fan club.

Portrait of Dollar Bill
Name: Dollar Bill
Born 1965, Australia. As Dollar Bill explains in one of his letters, his family traces its origins to Bohemia, part of the present-day Czech Republic, where the dollar or 'thaler' originated in the 16th century.
Known for Explaining decimal currency during the period of its introduction to Australia. The change in currency began on 14 February 1966.
Filmography: Numerous television appearances.
Creator: Cartoonist and animator, Monty Wedd.
Voice: Kevin Golsby as Dollar Bill, and Ross Higgins
as the man instructed by Dollar Bill. Golsby
and Higgins later performed together in
The Naked Vicar Show (7 Network, 1977–1978)
and Kingswood Country (7 Network, 1980–1984).
Fan Club: In September 1965 the Decimal Currency Board reported receiving 500 fan letters for Dollar Bill from children.

Meet the Voice of Dollar Bill

Kevin Golsby was the voice of Dollar Bill. Kevin went on to become one of Australia’s most memorable voices and a popular entertainer. His voice is also familiar through numerous televisions commercials, and he is known to many for his roles in the popular Australian satirical radio and television program The Naked Vicar Show, the enduring television sitcom Kingswood Country and regular appearances in drama series such as Division Four and A Country Practice. (See his extensive filmography in IMDb.)

Bank staff met up with Kevin Golsby to seek his recollections – fifty years on – of the introduction of decimal currency. View this interview.

Read Transcript

Transcript

Dollar Bill In come the dollars, in come the cents. To replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence. Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix on the 14th February 1966.
Pound Note Who are you?
Dollar Bill I’m Dollar Bill and I’ve come to tell everyone that decimal currency will be here from 14th February 1966.
Kevin Golsby Who am I? I’m Kevin Golsby, the actor who performed the voice of Dollar Bill. The voice of Mr Pound, Percy Pound, was played by Ross Higgins, well-known for his portrayal of a certain character, Ted Bulpitt, in television’s Kingswood Country.
Pound Note But why are we changing? What’s wrong with the old pound, shillings and pence?
Kevin Golsby We were all told that there a new currency would be upon us; it wasn’t going to be the Royal as was chosen by our present Prime Minister at the time; fortunately, it wasn’t. It was chosen as the dollar, so what better name could there be for a character than Dollar Bill? He was a portly little man, so I had to do a portly little voice. He knew what he was doing, he knew what he was saying; he was something of an authority. Little did I realise, of course, little did I realise that Dollar Bill may be my everlasting brush with fame, and I’m delighted to say that.
Dollar Bill In come the dollars, and in come the cents. To replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence. Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix on the 14th February 1966.
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