Bert Newton and Patti’s marriage was a rare story of lasting love in the television world

Thousands of fans surrounded the church in hopes of catching a glimpse of the bride and groom.

It was Melbourne’s own Berti craze when TV personalities Bert Newton and Patti McGrath tied each other up in Camberwell on November 9, 1974.

Police had to hold back the crowd as the bridal party’s car lined the road to the stairs to St. Dominic’s Church.

There was gasping and whistling as the bride appeared in a traditional long-sleeved white dress.

As a symbol of their union, the laces on Bert’s shirt matched the laces on Patti’s dress.

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A surprise Australia Day engagement

Patti first met Bert in a radio talent show when he was 12 – just a few years before he became Australia’s youngest professional broadcaster at the age of 15.

“We did not notice each other that much when we first met as children,” Patti told The Australian Women’s Weekly a month before the wedding.

“But I remember all the little girls in the radio talent show were in love with Bert.”

Bert wanted to go from strength to strength in his media career and cemented his fame in Australian television alongside Graham Kennedy on Channel Nine’s In Melbourne Tonight (IMT) and later The Graham Kennedy Show.

Graeme Blundell, who wrote the unauthorized biography Bert from 2014, said the media in Melbourne was obsessed with the young, sexy bachelor’s extraordinary love life, known as “Mr Teeth” for his radiant smile.

Bert was briefly engaged to TV colleague Susan-Gaye Anderson in 1962 and had an on-and-off-again relationship with model Joy Fountain.

He would eventually realize that Patti was “the one” after she left Australia to perform abroad.

A composite image of a young Patti McGrath and Bert Newton posing for head shots.
Patti and Bert Newton during their time at In Mebourne Tonight.(Instagram: Patti Newton)

Patti had started in the theater and claimed her own fame as a host on the children’s TV show The Tarax Show, as well as appearing in sketches on IMT.

After being apart for 18 months, Bert decided to fly to America in secret and book a ticket on the luxury craft, Queen Elizabeth II, where Patti sang.

He sent her a note after her performance, and they hurried to find each other.

“I came running to see him, but I could not find him, the ship was so big,” she told Women’s Weekly.

Bert got engaged on Australia Day 1974, and the couple went ashore in New York to buy a ring.

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‘It’s been a wonderful life together’

The couple wanted to get married abroad but decided to hold a ceremony in Australia so their families could be there.

Any hope of a small Catholic ceremony went out the window as the crowd of benevolent descended upon the church.

It wasn’t just the newlywed fans who were hoping to sneak a highlight – Bert’s best man Graham Kennedy was a magnet in his own right as one of the biggest names in television at the time.

The short service was performed by Bert’s childhood friend, Father Ray Deal, and the reception was held at the Southern Cross Hotel.

Bert and Patti had their first child Matthew Joseph (named after both of their deceased fathers) at Melbourne’s Mercy Hospital on January 22, 1977.

Their daughter Lauren Elise was born in the same hospital on March 25, 1979.

Patti and Bert Newton smile in a picture with their two young children.
Patti and Bert with their young children, Matthew and Lauren.(Instagram: Patti Newton)

Together, the couple endured both Bert’s career in show business as well as his struggles with gambling addiction, which nearly bankrupted them in 1993.

They also stood next to Matthew during his own struggles with addiction and several accusations against him of having assaulted former girlfriends Brooke Satchwell and Rachael Taylor.

Bert and Patti’s reunion was a rare story of enduring love in the world of entertainment, which can be brutal when it comes to relationships.

But after more than 45 years of marriage, the couple was just as in love as the day they said “I do”.

Patti’s Instagram feed is full of posts that reflect her long-standing devotion to “the love of my life”.

She celebrated their wedding anniversary in 2019 and wrote: “It has been a wonderful life together, ups and downs and lots of laughter and happiness. Thank you for choosing me. Love you Mack.”

Bert Newton sits next to his wife Patti with his feet up on his lap.
Bert Newton and Patti were married for more than 45 years.(Instagram: Patti Newton)

And just six days before his death was announced, she posted a picture of Newton with their grandchildren gathered around his hospital bed.

“That’s what happiness is,” she wrote.

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