Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Albert Watson "Bert" Newton (born 23 July 1938), Australian television performer, was born in Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne. He 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 Doug McKenzie , who was later to become "Zag" in Zig and Zag , Australia's most popular clown act of the early years of television.
Newton 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.
In 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 Newton's sidekick and "barrel boy." Lane christened him "Moonface", and the nickname stuck.
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).
Newton lived at home with his mother until the age of 36, prompting widespread gossip that he was gay. But 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 television dramas.
By 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 station 3DB.
In 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.
Newton hosted the Logies, the Australian equivalent of the Emmies, for 18 years. He has done some acting, appearing in guest roles in Australian dramas in the 1980s. He is also active in Australian theatre, playing the character of the Wizard in the The Wizard of Oz (starring Nikki Webster), and more recently appearing in the Australian cast of the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, as Franz Liebkind.
Newton 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.
- "Dinkum Aussies" - Bert Newton
- 2002 article about Newton in "The Age" newspaper
- The Bulletin: Patrick Carlyon profiles Bert Newton - 10 December 2003
- Bert Newton and the history of Australian TV
- Revenge of the second banana
- Channel Ten Good Morning Australia page
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