Michael Preston (born 14 May 1938, Hackney, London, England) is an international film and television actor, sometimes credited as Mike Preston.
Mike was born as Jack Davis in Clapton, East London in 1925 and from the word go, was a keen sportsman. As a young lad he played soccer for Hackney in the English Schools Shield and, according to a school pal of the time, “swam like a fish, played cricket and football, boxed for the school and town, was to the forefront at Athletics and was no slouch at lessons". Added to this he was a member of the local Glyn Road Church Choir where he was a boy soprano. It was whilst serving with the Irish Guards however that his boxing skills came to the forefront. In a career lasting 78 bouts Mike (or rather Jack) lost only 8 fights on a decision. The remaining 70 he won, one on a decision and the remainder as knockouts. Prior to his army service he had won an A.B.A. Divisional Championship.
After leaving school his first job was delivering agency pictures to newspaper offices in Fleet Street. From that he graduated to dark-room work becoming a skilled photographic printer. After demob he returned to Civvy Street and took a course as a trainee cameraman where he became a qualified cartoon cameraman, which entailed animating artist's drawings for television commercials. He also took his first steps on the road to the recording studio by taking singing lessons. But - as quoted on the liner notes to one of his EPs - ballad singers such as he were falling out of favour with the young rock and stars taking centre stage in the record buyers eyes.
However Mike persevered, and when Decca offered him a
recording contract in 1958 he cut his first two sides, “A House A
Car and A Wedding Ring", a composition by Jerry Lordan a singer and songwriter who, in a couple of years time, would have the composing credits to one of Britain's biggest instrumental hits of the day, The Shadows “Apache". The B-side was "My Lucky Love", and together these two singles were also issued by Decca's London label in the States where it was named as "a best bet" in the Variety trade paper. It was reputedly selling 25,000 copies a day, but I think that might be more of a publicity statement than actual fact. It peaked in Billboard's charts at No.93 on December 1.
On the strength of this Mike still in his day job flew out to America for two weeks of radio and TV appearances - making about fifty of them in that short space of time. Mike's follow up record was a cover of an old Ink Spots favourite from the '40s,"Whispering Grass". Another song to have later success for other than Mike was his third release, "Dirty Old Town", but "Mr Blue" was the song that did it. It was a Number One hit in America for The Fleetwoods, a boy and two girls group who'd already had a Number One over there and some success in Britain with “Come Softly To Me" - but they fell by the wayside.
He had three Top 40 hits in the UK Singles Chart, before immigrating to Australia where he worked as a nightclub singer. He then became a host on television, and then an actor. He was a guest host on In Melbourne Tonight in 1968. His first ongoing starring role on television in was in the long-running police drama series Homicide as Sen. Det. Bob Delaney from 1972-1973. He later had a recurring role in the soap opera Bellbird as Fr. John Kramer between 1974-1976. He later took a lead role in prison-based soap opera Punishment (1981) but this series was short-lived.
Mike Preston before his Mad Max 2 days, singing on the Australian TV music program "Hit Scene", June 1970.