Jason Donovan is probably best known for his acting role in Australian soap opera Neighbours which came early in his career, however, more recently recognised for his roles as people living alternative lifestyles.
On 1st June 1968, actor Terrence Donovan and ABC newsreader Sue McIntosh had a son in Malvern in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Not too long after, whilst Jason was still young, Terrence and Sue separated with Terrence taking the major parenting role in Jasons life.
By the age of five, show business had already influenced his life and as well as taking piano lessons, he joined a choir. Six years later, he made his first television appearance in Skyways. Despite being an actor himself, his father was very enthusiastic for Jason to get an education before embarking on a career so enrolled him in Spring Road School in Malvern and and later on in a Catholic High School called De La Salle. After working hard to get good grades, Jason was given his fathers blessing to continue the acting career he had always wanted after spending somnay hours on film sets watching his dad work.
In 1985, Jason came to home to hear that Grundy Television had contacted him with the offer of an audition. The wanted him to play the part of Scott Robinson In Neighbours. Previously, Jason has turned down the role of a character called Danny in the same soap opera because he wanted to complete his education. This was to become the big break that he needed to become famous worldwide.
Neighbours became immensely popular around the globe and his character, alongside his screen beau Charlene Ramsey, played by Kylie Minogue, were to become the pin-ups for teenagers everywhere. The ups and downs of their on-screen romance enticed millions of viewers to tune in with their eventual wedding getting record breaking ratings and a record breaking number one hit single for the song which was played whilst they tied the knot. This song, Especially For You went striaght to number one in the UK and stayed there for 14 weeks. Rumours flew around about Kylie and Jason at this time which they both strongly denied, which only recently have been admitted to by Jason himself.
Jason's dad featured as a regular in the show for a number of years also as Doug Willis and Jason's half sister Stephanie Mcintosh also appeared Sky Bishop Mangel in 2003.
By 1988 Jason has started working towards a career in music. He had signed up with Mushroom Records, and went to London to record his first single with the help of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. This reached number 5 in the UK charts when released in 1988 and the number one slot in Japan. The song proved to be successful in other countries too.
The same year, he took a three month break from Neighbours to play the part of Happy Huston in mini series Heroes.
In February the next year, Jason was to release Too Many Broken Hearts which was to be his first solo number one hit single. Wherever he went in the UK he was swamped by fans of all ages and found it difficult to go anywhere. There were even some cases where fans fainted when they saw him. He had the Midas Touch. By April, his music career was growing so much that he resigned from Neighbours to concentrate on his new job. His debut album, Ten Good Reasons went straight to number 2 in the UK album chart, went platinum and moved to number 1 where it was to stay for three weeks. With the release of a cover of Sealed With a Kiss, he became the first Australian to hold the number one position in the Album and singles chart simultaneously.
More acclaims followed with the release of more singles and roles in more mini seies. In August, his single was held off the top chart position by a charity record which he also took part in recording. He was also named Best Male Singer and Most Fanciable Male by Smash Hits as well as recieving the Best British Album award. A world tour followed.
Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
In 1991, Jason took on the lead role in the musical Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat in London. In his debut at the London Palladium he had rave reviews was a sell out at the box office. After getting his fouth number one his with a song from the show, he left his record label to sign up with Polydor where his greatest hits album was released.
After 18 months with the musical, the magazine Face started a campaign to out celebrities they thought to be gay. Jason was one of the people they reported on in this project using a manipulated image of him in a t-shirt with their campaign logo printed on it. Jason was not amused by this and procedded to take the magazine to court which ended in him receiving £200,000 in damages. To stop the magazine from facing bankruptcy, he returned all the money. This didn't satisfy the media on the whole who then started reporting that Jason was anti-gay, despite continual protestations from Jason saying that it wasn't a gay issue, it was a privacy issue. This had a terrible effect on his career.
Whilst having a break from Joseph in 1992, Jason took part in a number of projects including a fashion show at Grosvenor House Hotel with Kylie Minogue, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell as well as releasing a number of singles and a new album. A tour was also started, however, due to low charting positions, his record company dropped him.
The bad luck in his music career prompted him to go back to acting with his first lead role in a film entitled Rough Diamonds which was released later in the year. He then went back to the Palladium to finish his contract in Joseph which ended in January 1994.
The Viper Room
Things took a further turn for the worst for Jason after that. Alongside his problems with the media, he was sick of his image as a squeaky clean boy next door. He rebelled against this severely with illegal substances and in 1995 collapsed outside The Viper Room nightclub, famously owned by Johnny Depp where River Phoenix died from an overdose of drugs.
Jason blamed this on exhaustion at the time, and later suffered a similar attack in Sydney, Australia. Later he admitted to his problem with cocaine and stated,
"I know it sounds crazy but I thought I could be in control with drugs. But after a while you realise your personality's crumbled. Cocaine takes your personality away and throws it out the window."
Although depite the negative influence drus took on he life, he didn't regret what happened, also saying,
"Not everybody dies, and if there weren't drugs we wouldn't have had Alice in Wonderland or Great Expectations."
Despite his problems, he still managed to star in the film The Last Bullet where he starred alongside his father Terrence Donovan.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
A few different roles followed, until in 1998 he was to star as transvestite Frank n Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show on stage on tour around the UK. This production was celebrating its 25th anniversary and Jason was just what it needed to make the year go off with a bang. This experience was, unbeknownst to Jason, going to give his career the biggest spark for a number of years. The musical stage show has a script but also invites much improvisational comedy in between scripted lines due to heckling from the audience, and Jason drew on his knowledge from his drug using days, which made the audience appreciate his sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself. The show also put him back in favour with the majority of the gay community which he had alienated due to his problems with the earlier court case with the magazine.
This penchant for alternative roles continued with a film he starred in called Sorted about the rave drugs scene in London. Starring alongside Tim Curry, who originally starred as Frank N Furter on the big screen, Jason played the role of a cross-dressing DJ called Martin who loved to party.
The Family Man
Around this time, Jason started dating one of the stage managers who was involved with the Rocky Horror stage show at the Victoria Palace Theatre. When the show finished their relationship seemed to break up, but a few months later the lady in question, Angela Mulloch found that she was pregnant with Jason's child. Despite the break up, Jason was happy for her to keep the baby and started to become used to the idea of being a father. When his daughter Jemma was born on 28th March 2000, Jason was sure that he wanted to be a part of her life and started to fall in love with her mother again due to seeing her each time he visited the baby. He realised that he wanted to give the relationship another try and they fell in love again. By the time Sorted was about to have its West End premiere, They were very happy together and announced that they were expecting their second child, who was born in March 2001.
Jason is now touring clubs and pubs in the UK and Spain performing small sets of his most famous songs gathering new fans as he goes.