“…I only had a talent to sell tickets…”
Percy Tucker pokes fun at his astounding career by calling himself a ticket-seller or, he jests, “a purveyor extraordinaire of posterior placements”. Ticket selling was his prime career, for which he will go down in world techno history as the genius behind Computicket, the first centralized computer ticketing service in the world. It came on line in 1971.
With two university business degrees under his belt he started Show Service in the 50s, a centralized manual booking service for theatres, cinemas and sports venues. This led to queues stretching around city blocks; the system desperately needed to be modernized. And then, with the advent of computers his relentless drive led to the invention of Computicket.
While ticketing was his principal career he had another. As a boy he was taken to see Gracie Fields, Britain’s wartime sweetheart, on stage in Benoni; she was beautiful, blonde and shimmered in her stage costume. He was mesmerized. He would forever after be bedazzled by the stars and in his time he has met Bette Davis, Sir Laurence Olivier, Margot Fonteyn, Elton John…. An illustrious star-studded list. His book, Just the Ticket, is an encyclopedic account of SA theatre in his day and his flight amongst the stars.
Glamour aside, Percy, has been the backbone of SA theatre for six decades. With Leon Gluckman he was there with King Kong the first black jazz musical, he went all the way to parliament to fight for multiracial audiences and to this day is still on advisory boards, his particular passion being to save and keep ballet in Cape Town.
He was 88 when this interview was recorded. He spoke for over an hour without notes, remembering every date, every name, every amusing tale he has caught in his infinitely large star-catcher’s net.
Evelyn Levison Liza Minelli and Percy Tucker