Kiwi broadcasting icon Max Cryer dies aged 86

One of New Zealand's most versatile entertainers, Max Cryer, has died aged 86.

From the stage to the television, on radio and into the pages of a book, Cryer unleashed his talents far and wide. 

Born after the Great Depression, he studied at Auckland University before learning to sing in Italy.

It was in London he hit the big time as an operatic and cabaret singer.

Spotted by Hollywood in 1969, he later toured the US rubbing shoulders with stars like Lucille Ball.

Cryer once said: "She was very quiet and well-spoken and dignified - nothing at all like that madwoman on the screen!"

Max Cryer.
Max Cryer. Photo credit: Newshub.

But it was back home in New Zealand he hit his straps as the country's first television quizmaster.  

He made more than 300 appearances on television, beginning in the late 1960s, including New Zealand's first live talk-variety show, Town Cryer, University Challenge and Mastermind.

Named NZ Entertainer of the Year in 1973, he had his own one-off TV special - the first in New Zealand to be broadcast in colour. 

The English language was his passion. He was a stickler for words and their true meaning while poking fun at words created since the advent of computers. 

"There is occasionally a virus that not medical science can cure, a cloud that some of us are connected to that is never mentioned on the weather report, and as many of us know there is a mouse which isn't scared of cats."

Cryer was a best-selling author, Radio Live host and columnist.

He was recognised with an MBE in 1995 for services to entertainment.