The Australian entertainment industry pays tribute to Gold Logie-winning TV star Bert Newton, who has died at the age of 83 in his hometown of Melbourne.
- Newton graced the country’s screens for more than 50 years and had roles on all four major networks
- He is remembered by his colleagues as “the ultimate entertainer” and an Australian icon
- Veteran broadcaster John “Burgo” Burgess said Newton would leave an immeasurable void
The charismatic host had a career spanning more than six decades dating back to the early days of Australian television.
The Nine Network, with which Newton – affectionately known as “Moonface” – was long associated, confirmed the news, which provoked a widespread reaction from high-profile entertainers and politicians.
Fitzroy-born Newton started in the radio business as a 12-year-old and reached the heights of Australian entertainment on stage and screen.
Alongside Graham Kennedy and Don Lane, he was part of a trio known as the kings of Australian television.
His TV credits include In Melbourne Tonight, The Graham Kennedy Show, The Don Lane Show, Good Morning Australia, New Faces, Bert’s Family Feud and 20 to 1.
On stage, he played roles in the musicals Wicked, Annie, Grease and as a narrator in The Rocky Horror Show.
Nine’s director of television, Michael Healy, described Newton as a “giant in our industry who entertained generations of Australians across our television screens”.
“He was loved by all of us at Nine, and we wish Patti, Lauren, Matt, and their families our sincere condolences during this sad time.”
Veteran broadcaster John “Burgo” Burgess said Newton was an icon who would leave an “immeasurable” void.
Comedian Adam Hills said it was “sad news for any Australian”, adding that Australian television would not be where it is now without the great entertainer.
“It’s up to all of us to take what he taught us and keep his spirit alive. Huge love for his family. Bucks, Bert. You deserve the applause.”
TV host Rove McManus also praised that he had “lost a mentor and a friend” when Australia “lost an icon”.
Stand-up comedian Denise Scott said Newton had made fun of himself years ago for raising money for a friend who was dying of cancer, describing him as “the best”.
Former SBS, Channel 9 and Channel 10 news host George Donikian wrote on Facebook that his former colleague was “a really funny guy and” a generous performer who supported all those he believed in “.
Australia’s political leaders have also paid tribute to Newton, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying “there will never be one like him”.
“Bert could give and take a joke. He could laugh at himself and I’m sure that was what made the Australians warm him up as much as we did.”
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten noted Newton’s legendary status as a “world-class entertainer” in their shared home in Melbourne, and current leader Anthony Albanese said his heart went out to his family.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also tweeted, saying Newton lit up Australian screens with laughter and joy for decades.
“He was part of the very structure of our television landscape and an important part of the continued development of the screen.”
Newton leaves behind his wife Patti and two children, Lauren and Matthew.
Patti’s Instagram feed is a stream of tribute to her children, grandchildren and her long-standing devotion to “the love of my life”, Bert.
Just six days ago, she posted a picture of Newton with their grandchildren, in which she wrote, “That’s what happiness is.”
ABC / AAP