Square Dance BOOMIron Lung Life Support

From the Iron Lung

The Magic of Life!

"The Magic of Life" is Jim's autobiography - the story of an Australian 1950's entertainer who contracted the life threatening polio virus when at the height of his entertainment popularity. This is the complete story of his fight to survive - a story that will inspire, but also one that reveals helpful clues on how to survive the challenges that life throws at each and everyone of us as we seek quality in our lives.

Jim reveals his life - starting life as an immigrant, becoming a young journalist, to flying Spitfires in WW2; then becoming a household name as Australia's BOOM 1950's Square Dance caller; to his imprisonment in an iron lung and his fight to live; to entertaining children with puppets on early Australian television; then, authoring a 'relationship" best seller; to making a film about nudists, including 250 people square dancing in the nude; and, then passing a University course......... when aged 82.

ESCAPE FROM THE IRON LUNG could have been the title of Jim's book. It surprisingly opens by taking us to Kenya, and the filming of little girls held down by their 'loved ones' to be mutilated for life. In his personal escape to life and love story, Jim equates this clitoral mutilation with the results of what he calls 'psychological circumcision', going on almost unnoticed and still happening to the young in our own society.

Here are some quotes from Jim's 'Magic':

-It's one thing giving young people information; it's another thing to pass on an attitude.
-What you get out of it depends on your attitude. It applies to many things in life - particularly to sex.
-Sitting on the bench watching all this was her younger sister, looking terribly frightened - it was her turn next.
-The rock band was wearing guitar straps - and nothing else.

'Magic of Life' (Pdf) can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the book's cover above.

Included below are links to a couple of other multi-media resources on Jim's life. The first is a 1996 interview with radio 3LO personality, Doug Aiton (1996) - click the arrow to play::

Jim's comments on his disabilities from polio are worth repeating:

Doug Aiton: How do you feel about being 78?
Jim: Well I'm delighted to have reached it. When I had polio it was predicted I wouldn't pass 55. Here I am having great fun, and you know, life couldn't be better. It's wonderful. I have a wonderful wife - that's one of the main things. But I also have 3 great children and 7 grandchildren, and its just wonderful.

Doug Aiton: Has your disability impaired your enjoyment of life a great deal?
Jim: I don't think so. In some ways, it has contributed, because its been a bit of an education for our young ones to have someone like that around...[my grand kids] accept my disability.

Doug Aiton: And you don't ever get angry about the fact that polio so cruelly inflicted you?
Jim: No. I was very lucky to get out of it [the iron lung]. I'm very lucky!

Very Lucky? Indeed! But Jim and those close to him know he wasn't alone - he could not have achieved what he did without the love and care of his life long partner and wife, Beth - the 'Number One' Lady in Jim's Square Dance Exhibition Set, and herself the focus of public admiration for her courage, determination and devotion in nursing Jim through polio whilst also coping with their three children's medical problems, when aged only in her late twenties. In 1955, The Argus newspaper awarded Beth "Mrs. Housewife of the Year", whilst the magazine Woman's Day and Home wrote a lead article titled "The Testing of Beth Vickers-Willis" (click to open Pdf of this article).

Later in life, Jim and Beth appeared together on the George Negus Tonight Show (2002) sharing their experiences of moving into a retirement village.

Here are some key headlines of Jim's amazing life story:

Jim Vickers-Willis

Born Mill Hill, England -16th July, 1918
Father: John Vickers Willis (Pa - Philosopher)
Mother: Mildred Amelia Whitcomb (Moppy - Housewife)
Grandfather: Horace Whitcomb (Journalist)
Siblings: Eric, Les/Bill, Joan, Charles
Sponsored family migration to Australia 1925
Schools:Brighton Grammar/Haileybury College
College:Hassett's (Shorthand/Typing)
Enlisted - 12 September 1941
Discharged - 20th February 1946
Diploma of Life Insurance (1964)
Diploma of Financial Planning (2000, Aged 82!)

Married: Beth Parkinson (1947)
Children: Sue, Peter, Merle (fostered), Tony
Grandkids: Justin, Sascha, Lindy, Kellie,
Amber, Katy, Emily, Rebecca, Jareth, James
Great Grandkids: Kiani, Jake, Oliver, Hazel, Chance, Ryder, Jay, Cherrie & Martin

Click here to listen to Jim singing with his Grandchildren

Cadet Journalist - The Sun Herald (Melbourne)
WW2 Veteran: RAAF - Fliying Instructor & Spitfire Pilot
Thirst Aid Mobile Canteens
Entertainer - Square Dance Caller
Author- The Australian Standard Square Dance
Manufacturer - Baby Barriers
Entertainer - Puppet Pantomime
Manufacturer - Puppet Pantomime Sets
Manufacturer - Jack-in-the-Boxes
Life Insurance Representative & Certified Financial Planner (T&G, Nat Mutual, AXA)
Sunday School Teacher (St.Leonards Presbyterian, Brighton)
Awarded 'Paul Harris Fellow' of Rotary International

The Magic of Life!
Are You (Really) Fun To Live With?
The War Diary
The Australian Standard Square Dance

Let's Get It All Off - For Goodness Sake (film)
Report/Talk on Sex (film)
Sexuality & Your Quality of Life (audio)
Female Sexual Expression (audio)
Male Sexuality (audio)
HoeDown-Under (film)
Square Dance at Home (audio)

Social Advocacy:
Comprehensive sex education for all.
Australian withdrawal from Vietnam War
Legal nude bathing beaches
Foreshore bike paths
Anti-tobacco lobby
Prison reform

Australian Senate Candidate 1967
Election Platform:"Vote Us Out Of Vietnam"

More on Jim's Story:

Jim's Puppet Pantomime


View Jim's Photo Gallery



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