Watson "Bert" Newton, AM MBE (born 23 July
1938), is an iconic Australian television performer.
Newton was born in Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne,
was educated at St Joseph's Marist Brothers College
and remains a strong Roman Catholic. In his early
years he had thoughts of entering the priesthood.
Instead, in June 1952, he got his first job working
in radio doing a Saturday morning children's show
on 3XY. He worked with Stan Rofe and Doug McKenzie,
who was later to become "Zag" in Zig and
Zag, Australia's most popular clown act of the early
years of television.
Kennedy & Don Lane
began his television career at Melbourne's HSV-7,
hosting The Late Show, but soon defected to GTV-9,
where he was hired to host a daytime television program.
After appearing in a live commercial on In Melbourne
Tonight, alongside its host Graham Kennedy, he became
a fixture on the show, which was the most popular
program on Melbourne television. His partnership with
Kennedy made Newton a household name.
1964 Newton was hospitalised after suffering a nervous
breakdown. After leaving In Melbourne Tonight Newton
briefly hosted his own program, The Bert Newton Show,
recorded in Sydney for the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation. This was not a success, and he later
returned to working with Kennedy. When Kennedy and
GTV-9 parted company, the station tested a number
of possible replacements, including Newton, but an
American import, Don Lane, was eventually hired. Newton
continued as Lane's sidekick and "barrel boy."
Lane christened him "Moonface", and the
of the most memorable events on the Don Lane Show
was when Bert Newton sent-up Demis Roussos, and Roussos
came on stage while he was doing the act.
When The Don Lane Show ended Newton presented a quiz
show, Ford Superquiz, produced by the Reg Grundy organisation
for the Nine Network. Newton also presented a very
successful radio programme on Melbourne radio station
3UZ (now Radio Sport 927).
lived at home with his mother until the age of 36,
prompting widespread gossip that he was gay. In 1974
he married Patti McGrath, whom he had known since
they worked together in radio and later at HSV-7.
They were married at St Dominic's Parish Church in
Camberwell, with Kennedy as best man. According to
the police, there were ten thousand people outside
the church. The Newtons have a son, Matthew, and a
daughter, Lauren. Matthew Newton has become an actor
and has appeared in a number of Australian films and
Rise of Bert Newton
the late '70s Newton had become something of a cult
figure in Melbourne. In 1979 he received an MBE. A
song about him, "For Bert", was written
by GTV-9's musical director Brian Rangott. The Newtons
found success with a television talent show, New Faces,
but a 1984 show on Seven, Tonight With Bert Newton
was short-lived. In 1986 he returned to his radio
roots as General Manager and broadcaster on Melbourne
December 1993 Newton admitted to having a gambling
problem. According to an article published in The
Sydney Morning Herald in July 2004: "One day
in late 1993, he woke up to read the front-page story
he had been dreading: he was broke and owed $1 million."
Newton sold two houses and agreed to pay creditors
40 cents in the dollar. Most of the money was owed
to institutions or companies, banks, law firms and
the Tax Office, rather than to individuals.
hosted the Logies, the Australian equivalent of the
Emmies, for 18 years. The Logies ceremonies let him
be a star, rather than the 'second banana'. He had
few problems with the annual Logie ceremonies, except
for an infamous gaffe with guest Muhammad Ali, in
which a confrontation onstage was barely avoided after
the boxer interpreted a statement by Newton, "I
like the boy", as a racist insult. In another
incident in 1973, American actor Michael Cole, best
known for his role in the TV series The Mod Squad,
accepted an award while obviously drunk and ended
his barely coherent thank-you speech with a four-letter
has done some acting, appearing in guest roles in
Australian dramas in the 1980s. He is also active
in musical theatre, playing the character of the Wizard
in The Wizard of Oz (starring Nikki Webster), 'Cogsworth'
in Beauty & The Beast and more recently appearing
in the Australian cast of the Mel Brooks musical The
Producers, as Franz Liebkind.
1992 Newton moved into daytime television with Good
Morning Australia on Network Ten, a show which revived
Newton's celebrity status and which was a continuing
success for Ten.
released an autobiography, Bert! Bert Newton's own
story in 1977. More recently he has been the subject
of several tribute broadcasts. In 1997 he was the
subject of a "This Is Your Life" tribute.
Patti was honoured with her own tribute in 2001. The
Best of Bert Newton was aired in 2002. Channel Nine
Salutes Bert Newton was broadcast in early 2004, depicting
the career of Newton from his early days of late night
television to his height as Logie presenter.
to Channel Nine
October 2005, Channel Ten announced that Good Morning
Australia would be cancelled at the end of the year,
after a 14 year run. Although he was offered ongoing
employment (in an unclear role) at Channel Ten, Newton
stated that he would return to Channel Nine in 2006.
He hosts the new series of 20 to 1 taking over from
currently hosts a new show Bert's Family Feud which
airs in the 5.30pm weekday timeslot, going against
the popular Seven Network game-show Deal or No Deal.
once again hosted the TV Week Logie Awards in 2006.
After the awards he had a fall and injured himself.
The injury was visible for a number of Bert's Family
celebrate the 50th Anniversary of television in Australia,
Channel 9 ran a show titled "50 Years, 50 Stars",
where they looked back at the Top 50 stars of Australian
television. Bert Newton was listed as the # 1 Australian
TV star of the past 50 years.
Newton has won many Logies in his television career.
He has won the Gold Logie four times - in 1979, 1981,
1982 and 1984 for his roles in The Don Lane Show and
New Faces. He was nominated for the Gold Logie in
2006 for his role in Good Morning Australia. (Credit:
Man Australia does not represent Bert Newton