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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‘Opo the Crazy Dolphin’, recorded by Pat McMinn with the Stardusters, was written by jazz pianist Crombie Murdoch and released on Tanza in 1956. 
Bell Bottom Blues
While still a teenager, Pat McMinn was a leading vocalist in Auckland cabarets during the Second World War. 
Photo credit: Pat McMinn collection
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
The New Zealand Concert Party at the 5th Royal Tank Regiment in Korea: Jean Kirk Burnard, John Reidy, Pat McMinn and Johnny Cooper
Johnny Cooper and Pat McMinn entertaining in the mess, Korea
Geddes Dental Jingle
Pat McMinn in 1971. After her years singing, she was well-known as a dance teacher and judge.
Photo credit: Variety Artists Club
Pat McMinn - a 1970 agent's publicity shot, from Phil Warren's Fullers Bureau
Opo the Dolphin on PIctorial Parade No.47, 1956. (NZ On Screen)
From Pat McMinn's photo album, early 1940s: "With my hair up for the first time". 
Pat McMinn takes part in a variety show at Patumhoe - 10km NW of Pukekohe - in 1947
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]