very sad news…
from article in the Sydney Morning Herald
“Idol’s fall turns toy story to tragedy”
July 31, 2006
FREDDY KRUEGER and Homer Simpson have not spoken since Sydney’s Michael Jackson died.
The near life-size toy figures, whose voices are activated by electronic sensors, have stood silent for two months in the shop that doubled as the home of their owner, Richard Blackie, a Michael Jackson impersonator.
Mr Blackie’s body has lain unclaimed at the City Morgue in Glebe since it was discovered on May 27 at the Antique Toy Trading Company in Petersham. Police believe his death at the age of 41 was the result of suicide.
They have been unable to trace any relatives, even though Mr Blackie often talked about his mother and sister, and even a girlfriend, whom no one ever saw.
The fate of one of Australia’s largest collections of antique and modern toys, comics, television and movie memorabilia – which Mr Blackie dreamed would be displayed in a museum of his creation – is now uncertain.
In an interview with the Herald two years ago, Mr Blackie, who more than a decade ago had plastic surgery to remake his face in the image of his teen pop idol, Michael Jackson, said there were more than 3.5 million objects crammed into his tiny shop.
“I’ve been called upon to round up all the old toys in the world,” he said of his 20-year obsession, which friends speculate grew out of a childhood deprived of love and toys as a ward of the state in Queensland.
Marrickville police were stunned on entering the shop.
“Out the back where he slept, we came across John Wayne – no kidding, a life-size mannequin of John Wayne sitting on a stuffed horse,” one officer said.
Antenella Azzopardi, an artist and friend of three years who lived above Mr Blackie’s shop, spoke with sadness of the last month of his life. Miss Azzopardi said his mood swung from depression to paranoia.
A week before his death, Mr Blackie came to her with a bruise on his head, saying he had been assaulted by a man demanding money, and he was also worried that he was behind in the rent.
“A couple of days later he changed his story and said a group of men had assaulted him in the grounds of a church. Then he said someone was gassing his shop because his four chihuahuas and German shepherd were sleeping too much,” she said.
Later, she heard Mr Blackie’s dogs crying. “Now we know why,” she said.
Miss Azzopardi said Mr Blackie craved attention and loved it when people remarked on his resemblance to Jackson, with whom he corresponded. He would proudly show customers and friends Jackson’s letters to him.
“He was a great character, he could talk all day about his collection. At night you sometimes heard his Homer Simpson doll talking,” she laughed, adding “but Freddy Krueger freaked one of my friends out when he talked, especially at night when you would hear them together.”
Miss Azzopardi said Mr Blackie was one of Jackson’s authorised imitators for shopping centre appearances. He said he had been on a television talk show as Michael Jackson.
But in the past year, with the crash in popularity of his idol amid claims of child molestation, Mr Blackie’s dream of a national toy museum was shattered.
Police found no suicide note. They said it did not appear that Mr Blackie was in financial difficulty.
With no known next of kin to claim his body, police said he faced a “destitute funeral” in an unmarked grave.
With no will, his collection is in the hands of the public trustee.
Anyone who has information that could assist police should phone 9281 0000.