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Vale: Bert Newton

Legendary entertainer Bert Newton has died, aged 83.

Legendary entertainer Bert Newton has died, aged 83.

He was hospitalised at Epworth earlier this year and underwent a leg amputation below the knee, following a toe infection. But the rehab entailed complications and he was recently entered into palliative care at O’Neill House.

Patti Newton said, “It’s very, very devastating. All our hearts are breaking because he was just the most wonderful man.

“I left at ten past seven, and I was just pulling around to come into my drive and I get the call to say he’d taken his last breath at 7.22pm. So I missed him, but maybe he didn’t want me to be there for his last breath.

“He had such a fabulous attitude. And he gave us so much joy right up to the end.”

In recent years he has faced a number of health challenges including quadruple heart bypass surgery and pneumonia.

Nicknamed “Moonface”, Newton’s star is monumental in Australian television, lauded as the King of Television after succeeding his longtime friend and colleague, Graham Kennedy.

His influence on Australian Live television is immeasurable, having hosted 17 Logie Awards, In Melbourne Tonight, The Bert Newton Show, Good Morning Australia and joining his “lanky Yank” friend on The Don Lane Show.

Yet while he famously welcomed the “second banana” role, Newton was a star in his own right.

A household name, he also hosted New Faces, Family Feud, Ford Superquiz, 20 to 1 and more.

Over his career he would win 4 Gold Logies, a Hall of Fame award, receive an Order of Australia, an MBE, a Centenary Medal, Mo Award, Television Society of Australia Award, Penguins, Pater Awards, named as Victorian of the Year, King of Moomba -there is even a “Bert” Australia Post stamp.

Newton grew up in Fitzroy and made his start in showbiz on Radio 3XY working with Doug McKenzie and Stan Rofe. Becoming a junior announcer at just 15, radio would continue with shows at 3AK, 3UZ and 3DB (including as general manager).

His TV career began at HSV7 on The Late Show in 1957, hosting before the age of 20. But it was in 1959 that he appeared alongside Graham Kennedy on In Melbourne Tonight, forging a lifelong personal friendship and one of two long-term network associations, first with GTV9.

Patti McGrath, who would later become wife Patti Newton, was also an IMT regular.

Newton would become one of 4 rotating hosts after Kennedy’s departure in 1969, before The Graham Kennedy Show and eventually joining The Don Lane Show for a stellar run from 1975 – 1982. ‘Don’s Wheel’ became a favourite unpredictable segment, famous for Newton’s costumes, crackling repartee and disdain for the show’s scheduled running time.

Concurrently he hosted New Faces, alongside Bobby Limb, Tim Evans, Rod McLennan, with acts including a young Keith Urban (later revived briefly on 10) and in 1981 fronted Ford Superquiz, based on classic quiz Pick-A-Box, with wife Patti.

Following his own Tonight with Bert Newton on Nine in 1984 he moved to Seven for daytime show The Bert Newton Show in 1989, with regular Jeanne Little, screening against Nine’s own Midday hosted by Ray Martin.

His next major chapter, and second long-term broadcaster, was in joining 10 for Good Morning Australia and with it, the return of advertorials in his career.

Over its long run from 1992 – 2005 Newton was joined by music director John Foreman, regulars Moira McLean, Susie Elelman, Maria Venuti, Iain Hewitson, Gabriel Gate, Tonia Todman, Elizabeth Chong, Ken James, John Michael-Howson, Philip Brady, Colette Mann and his new sidekick, floor manager Rob ‘Belvedere’ Mascara.

GMA even led to an appearance visiting the Celebrity Big Brother house -when he walked through the gates none of the network stars could believe their eyes, but Newton only had eyes for fan favourite Sara-Marie Fedele (he returned in 2013 with Patti when the show was on Nine).

He returned to Nine in 2006 hosting Bert’s Family Feud, then 20 to 1 and What a Year with Julia Zemiro.

Newton also took to the stage for productions of The Wizard of Oz, Wicked, The Sound of Music, Beauty & the Beast, Annie, Grease the Musical and The Rocky Horror Show. Film credits include Fatty Finn, Doctors & Nurses and The Wannabes.

One of his final appearances was in 2020’s Who Do You Think You Are? on SBS, tracing his genealogy in Melbourne.

“I feel even closer to my dad now because I know so much more about him. I realise now how lucky I am to have the family I have. Family is the one thing I’m totally sure of,” he said.

I only interviewed Bert briefly at Nine events, as he became semi-retired in recent years. But I was fortunate enough during his Family Feud days to join him in his dressing room at GTV9 Richmond where he regaled stories from the past and encouraged my work in covering television and its history.

There will never be another Bert. Farewell to the King.

Premier Dan Andrews has offered Patti Newton & family a State Funeral, which she has accepted.

Michael Healy, Nine’s Director of Television said in a statement: “Bert Newton was a giant of our industry, entertaining generations of Australians across our television screens. He brought unbridled joy and laughter into our homes as part of so many programs, partnerships and formats. He was loved by us all at Nine and we wish Patti, Lauren, Matt and their families our sincere condolences at this sad time.”

Beverley McGarvey, Chief Content Officer and EVP, ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand said, “Bert Newton was the great star of Australian television, an entertainment icon, an incredible talent. His charisma, charm, humour, generosity and ability to entertain provided so much laughter and joy. He was a master performer. He was adored and admired by everyone at 10. Our thoughts and deepest condolences to his beloved Patti, Lauren, Mathew and their families at this sad time.”

Rob ‘Belvedere’ Mascara: “Graeme Kennedy was the king but Bert was the master. He could do absolutely everything in show business. Radio, Theatre, TV and film. Bert wasn’t a triple threat, he was a quadruple threat and the best ad-libber in the biz! A huge loss and the end of a TV era. Will be very sadly missed. Vale Bert”

John Foreman said, “”He was the face of Australian television for me growing up. He represents sort of that coming together of sort of that intelligence, warmth, humour, empathy, and ability to out the audience first and treat them with respect.”

Rhonda Burchmore: “I am sobbing and absolutely heartbroken that my darling friend Bert has passed. He was a loyal, wonderful & kind man who supported me my entire career through good and bad times. He was an absolute icon . There will never be another Bert. Rest In Peace darling man – I love you xx”

Adam Hills: “This is such sad news for any Australian. Bert Newton was the ultimate entertainer. Australian TV wouldn’t be what it is without Bert. It’s up to us all to take what he taught us, and keep his spirit alive. Enormous love to his family. Take a bow, Bert. You deserve the applause.”

Angela Bishop: “What a loss. There was no one quite like the great Bert Newton. To have lost him at 83 is still too soon, because he’s truly irreplaceable. Brilliant, cheeky, generous, kind. Sending deepest condolences to his beloved Patti, Lauren, Matthew and his treasured grandkids. Vale.”

John Burgess: “This week just gets sadder with the passing of Aust. TV icon Bert Newton.I had the absolute honour of sharing a stage on occasion with Bert & was able to step back& watch a star at work.The void he leaves behind is immeasurable. Our condolences to Patti&family,RIP Bert. Jan&Burgo”

Denise Scott: “Bert Newton was the best.Years ago when my friend&comedy colleague Lynda Gibson was dying of cancer we had a fundraising comedy ‘roast’ for her.Bert turned up @ HiFi bar in Melb&paid homage by removing his ‘rumoured’ toupee & revealing his total baldness. It meant the world to us.”

Jason Donovan: “Sad news to hear the passing of Bert Newton an absolute legend of Australian TV. Bert was a hugely passionate supporter of Australian talent and the Australian entertainment industry! My heart, my thoughts with Patti,Lauren,Matthew & extended family.”

Rebecca Maddern: “There will never be another Bert Newton. TV at its finest.”

Dave O’Neil: “Noo Bert Newton. He was always so friendly & hilarious. One day at an 11 am media screening of a film he sat next to me & Rove. He pulled out some champagne & handed me two glasses. He said ‘that’s for you, that’s for Rove and f*** the rest of them.’ RIP Bert, champers in heaven!”

Julie McCrossin: “Very sorry to hear of the death of Bert Newton, seen here with Bob Downe (Mark Trevorrow) on Good Morning Australia. Truly respect Bert Newton’s remarkable skills as an entertainer & interviewer. What an outstanding work ethic. Vale. Condolences to his family.”

Bill Shorten: “Vale Bert Newton, a true Melbourne legend, a true believer and a world class entertainer. #bertnewton”

Michael Usher: “Farewell Bert Newton. What a marvellous life on TV and stage. A standing ovation to you, and our love to Patti and the family. #bertnewton”

Paul Bongiorno: “Sorry to hear of the death of Bert Newton. We were work colleagues on Network Ten mornings for years. I was often the fall guy , his quick wit amazing. What a legend. My deepest sympathy to Patty and the family.”

Jeff Kennett: “So sorry to hear of Bert Newton’s death. He had been part of our life’s for so many years. Providing laughter and joy, and generosity for so many good causes. Patti, we are thinking of you and your family. Much love.”

Tanya Plibersek: “Australia has lost an icon and a true entertainer. Vale Bert Newton, you lit up our screens for decades and made such an impact on our entertainment industry. My thoughts are with Patti, their family, and friends during this sad time.”

Anthony Albanese: “Vale Bert Newton. My heart goes out to his family who have lost a husband, a father and friend. And to Australia who have lost an icon.”

Marcia Hines: “In a world full of change, Patti and Bert remain one of Australia’s enduring love stories. [Bert] Newton was the kindest and most nurturing person that I’ve come across in my career. A true gentleman and such a great Australian talent! May you Rest In Peace.”

Ricardo Gonçalves: “Never got to meet #BertNewton but he was generous enough to offer me a reply when I was a kid seeking advice on how to break into TV and journalism. A simple acknowledgment, that went a long way, and made me feel seen #Bert”

Dan Ilic: “Bert Newton gave a lot of himself to everyone he met — his immense talents were only amplified by his generosity of spirit and kindness to even the smallest names in showbiz. #bertnewton”

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia: “Terribly sad news about the passing of Bert Newton, aged 83. A remarkable and enduring career on TV, radio, and stage. You won’t be forgotten #BertNewton Image: Nine Network.”

Richard Wilkins: “We’ve lost a legend! R.I.P #bertnewton …. Sincere condolences to Patti, Lauren , Matthew and family. Thanks for the laughs ….”

Shaun Micallef: “Bert was the guy we would all talk about the next day at school after the Don Lane Show. He was the funny guy who hosted the Logies when I was growing up. 20 times. Years later I would host it once and I got to introduce him and it was a really big deal for me. Goodnight Bert.”

Rove McManus: “I don’t know that I’m ready to accept this yet. Today I lost a mentor and friend, our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soul mate. Sending love to all the Newtons, especially Patti. My heart is broken. Rest In Power, Albert Watson Newton.”

Catriona Rowntree: “The sweetest, kindest man, matched by his beautiful family. All our love to them, we will miss this titan of the tele industry so much.”

Magda Szubanski: “So very sad to hear that dear Bert Newton has died. He was always so friendly & supportive to us ‘young ones’. He was an icon, a total professional & a true gent.
My deepest condolences to Patti, Lauren, Matt & all who loved him RIP”

Colette Mann: “Sad news this morning! My friend and mentor of sorts , the great Bert Newton died yesterday at 83. Such a brilliant, loving, generous entertainer and even better father husband and grandfather. My thoughts are with Patti, Matthew,Lauren and Matt and his beautiful grandchildren. X”

David Campbell: “The absolute and of an era. We all grew up with Bert. The ultimate showman. The man who made us all laugh. My thoughts with Patti and his family. RIP Bert. Thank you for giving this young singer a chance on your show.”

Jane Kennedy: “Oh this is the saddest news. Bert was a champion of comics, entertainers, musicians and first and foremost family. My love and condolences to Patti, Lauren, Matthew, Matt and his beloved grandchildren. I wasn’t expecting to cry on this regular Saturday night”

Jim Wilson: “So very sad the passing of Bert Newton, one of our greats and thoughts with Patti and the family. Grew up with the legendary Bert Newton, an incredible talent and could he think on his feet. Like Graham Kennedy, a national treasure when it comes to our industry”

Christie Whelan: “Bert Newton was a legend. And I’ll always use him as my example of how to treat the young ones coming next. Rest In Peace knowing how loved you were, not only by Patti, your kids and grandkids- but Australians.”

Kylie Minogue: “RIP #Bert … A true. Aussie. Legend. Love and condolences to Patti and all the family.”

Brett Mcleod: “Just one thing to add: one of the great pleasures of joining Nine was meeting Bert. It was always a treat running into him. Funny, thoughtful, insightful, supportive – and mainly just because it was Bert. Deepest sympathies to Patti and family x.”

Daryl Somers: “I was very fortunate to witness his brilliance, firstly as a viewer, then first hand when I started my career at GTV9. You learn a lot from those who came before you and so in my case with Bert. He made people laugh over many decades and in my book you couldn’t leave a better legacy.”

Peter Hitchener: “Bert Newton: thank you for everything you have done for your millions of viewers, and your service to the television industry. An unrivalled star whose legacy is unique. RIP”

This post updates.

Additional Source: The Age

43 Responses

  1. What terribly sad news.Bert had no contemporaries,no peers left in the Australian television industy.He was the last true legend of Australian television and now he’s sadly gone as well.We will never see his kind again,because they just don’t make stars like that anymore.

    Rest In Peace,Bert.You will never be forgotten.

  2. shocked, but probably mostly because Bert was ever the entertainer & still managed to put a smile on his face after all he had been through. It was nice to see he was able to see all the family again after the Melbourne lockdown has ended, how is that for timing though. RIP Moonface, you provided much entertainment to me & my family over the year.

  3. Bert was part of our lives for so many years and was the consummate entertainer who never retired. He has left us countless wonderful and funny memories and is sadly missed. Devastated, really. 😥😥

  4. So very sad to hear today of Bert Newton passing away, he brought so much laughter and happiness into my home when =I was young, skits with Don Lane and Grahame Kennedy were priceless!!, forever and ever and ever you`ll be the one!! so funny, you will be sadly missed Bert, thank you for the lovely times we will all cherish and remember. kind wishes to his wife patty and family.

  5. Very sad news. Goodbye Bert.
    The end of an era really.
    Have been reading all the lovely, heartfelt tributes pouring in for him , here and elsewhere. By all accounts much loved and respected by everyone from all walks of life, not just those in the TV industry.
    One of a kind and a true television legend – incredibly funny with a razor sharp wit and master of the one-liners but kind, humble and self deprecating at the same time.

  6. The man was simply a legend. And one I never could shuffle off the mortal coil. There’s always been Bert. My childhood, young adulthood and now mid life, I’ve loved the man’s wit and sparkle. The only thing that is giving me any solace of this news that there will be the funniest bunch of Aussie entertainers in heaven up to comedic mischief. Gra Gra, Don and now Bert are together and we are poorer for that loss. My profound condolences to Patti and the kids and grandchildren. An icon has left the stage.

  7. A genuinely funny man and king of the one liners. Watching highlights of him today were a great reminder of just how clever he was. RIP Bert and thank you for so many great memories.

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