Entertainer, hypnotist and psychologist who had every town in the country under his spell, writes Liam Collins
Published 17/02/2008 | 00:00
Paul Goldin who died in Dublin last week at the age of 81 was a consummate showman who lived a colourful and lucrative life as one of Ireland's best known entertainers, hypnotists and behavioural psychologists.
Mr Goldin, who arrived unknown in Ireland in the 1950s, was born Ronald Gold into a Jewish emigrant family from London's East End.
For over a half century, he entertained and sometimes annoyed succeeding generations, amassed a considerable fortune and was one of the most impressive headline grabbers of our times.
His stunts, on and off the stage, were legendary, and were all aimed at keeping his profile firmly in the public mind.
Among the promises he was unable to keep was to jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute at 2,500 feet -- but it wasn't that his stunt went wrong it was simply that the British police would not allow him to go ahead with the spectacular at Ipswich airport in 1979.
His famous show could fill theatres like the Olympia, the Gaiety and the Cork Opera House for weeks on end, but it was his constant touring of country towns that really made him a household name in Ireland.
Hypnotised guests, plucked from the audience, loved to go searching for Leprechauns or get involved in other exotic stunts. His act pre-dated later television stars like Paul McKenna.
Although he left Ireland for long periods he always returned and his clinics, which aimed to stop stammering, smoking, or help people to slim became a lucrative sideline in later life -- after his showbusiness career had come to an end.
To keep the publicity machine well oiled, Paul Goldin was not slow to have a good go at the medical profession and their obsession with prescribing pills, and he was well able to wade into any controversy going.
He claimed to have studied medicine in the University of London in 1954-56 but abandoned his studies in his final year because he did not agree with the medical profession's reliance on drugs.
Instead, he became a showman in 1949, and arrived in Ireland shortly afterwards where he found his spiritual home, and would live for most of the rest of his life.
But there were periods when he literally disappeared.
On one such occasion, in the 1970s, he was being pursued by an irate husband, dramatically collapsed mid-performance in the Cork Opera House and slipped out of the country.
When he returned a year later he was in even more demand. He disappeared again for eight years in the 1980s before returning as a behavioural psychologist.
Golden had been under a certain amount of pressure after he was sued by a group of stammerers who demanded their money back after his expensive treatment was not as successful as they had been promised. He settled the case out of court.
"Personally he is an enigma," said one reporter. "A flamboyant showman; in private he is retiring loner with no conspicuous social profile and despite considerable earnings, no apparent taste for high living."
Mr Goldin lived in Monkstown and later Rathmichael, Co Dublin, with his wife Helen. Only a few weeks ago, he spoke about taking less involvement in the family business, which is now run by his daughter Katie-Jane.
He is also survived by his other children Sarah, David, Bobby and Ricky, who has had some success as an actor, appearing in the Broadway production of Grease with Brooke Shields and Rosie O'Donnell. He got into acting by appearing in his father's shows, from the age of six.
A memorial service to celebrate Paul Goldin's life was held in the Unitarian Church in St Stephen's Green on Friday.