Bert NewtonAlbert Watson Newton, AM, MBE (born on 23 July 1938), is an Australian media personality. He is a Logie Hall of Fame inductee, quadruple Gold Logie award-winning entertainer and radio, theatre and television personality/presenter. Newton has hosted the Logie Awards ceremony on numerous occasions through his career. He is known for his collaborations with Graham Kennedy and Don Lane.
Newton started in radio broadcasting, before becoming a star and fixture of Australian television since its inception in 1956, and is considered both an industry pioneer, icon and one of the longest-serving television performers in the world. Newton is known for his association with both the Nine Network and Ten Network, in numerous shows including: In Melbourne Tonight, New Faces, Good Morning Australia, 20 to 1 and Bert's Family Feud.
In 2018, he was honoured by Australia Post, along with Ray Martin, Denise Drysdale, Daryl Somers and Kerri-Anne Kennerley, by having his portrait featured on a series of stamps, honouring "The Legends of Television" Newton's wife is singer and television personality Patti Newton (formerly McGrath). Their two children are Australian actor Matthew Newton and television personality Lauren Newton.
Early lifeNewton was born in Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He had three brothers (Tom, Jack and Bob) and a sister (Alice). He was educated at St Joseph's Marist Brothers Roman Catholic college. In his early years he had thoughts of entering the priesthood and is still an active Roman Catholic.
RadioNewton's first paid radio appearance was as a schoolboy on Melbourne radio station 3XY on 10 June 1952, doing advertisements dressed as a clown with Doug McKenzie, later to become "Zag" in Zig and Zag.
"... there was a radio program on 3XY Melbourne called Scouting Around, compered by the late Tom Jones. One week the broadcast was recorded at our Scout Hall, and as the direct result of this, I began to appear on 3XY."
This led to regular appearances on a Saturday morning children's show, in which he worked with Stan Rofe and McKenzie.
In May 1954, 3XY employed him as a junior announcer (aged 15); by 1955 he was presenting Melbourne Speaks, a vox pop program recorded on the streets of Melbourne's CBD.
After GTV-9 purchased 3AK in April 1961, all GTV-9 personalities were expected to present programs on 3AK. Graham Kennedy and Newton hosted a two-hour morning program.
He began a morning program on 3UZ in 1976. The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd appointed Newton as general manager of 3DB in 1986, which he combined with on-air appearances until 1988.
Early television careerNewton began his television career at Melbourne's HSV-7, hosting The Late Show. For several years Newton worked with former manager Mason Jarrett whilst trying to find work on numerous television stations.Newton left HSV-7 and went to GTV-9 in early 1959 to host a daytime television program In Melbourne Today. After appearing in a live commercial on In Melbourne Tonight with his friend Graham Kennedy at Easter 1959, he began to make regular appearances on the show and assumed hosting duties on some episodes. This began a lifelong association with Kennedy.
In 1959–1960 he hosted The Bert Newton Show (later re-titled Hi-Fi Club) on GTV-9, a series aimed at teenagers.
In 1960 and 1961, Newton, along with Graham Kennedy, appeared in the national Graham Kennedy's Channel 9 Show (a one-night-a-week national version of IMT). In January 1962, the show was cancelled and replaced by the similar The Channel 9 Show, hosted by Newton.
Television career 1975 to mid-1992Newton mainly appeared on the Nine Network in these years. He appeared on:
Move to Network Ten (1992–2005)From mid-1992 until 2005, Newton appeared on Channel Ten as host of Good Morning Australia
In October 2005, Network Ten announced that the program would be cancelled at the end of the year after a 14-year run. Although Newton was offered ongoing employment at Network Ten, he stated that he would return to the Nine Network in 2006.
Return to the Nine Network (2006–2012)After finishing on Network Ten's Good Morning Australia in late 2005, Newton returned to the Nine Network in early 2006. He appeared on:
Newton reputedly received a yearly salary of A$800,000 from Nine during this era.
Stage rolesNewton's stage appearances include Professor Marvel/the Wizard of Oz in The Wizard of Oz, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, Franz Liebkind in The Producers and Max in The Sound of Music.
In October 2008, it was announced that he would be taking over the role of The Wizard in the Melbourne production of the musical Wicked, after the sudden death of Rob Guest. He played his first performance on 12 November 2008. The production closed on 9 August 2009 and transferred to Sydney from 12 September 2009. Newton continued to play the role on the national tour, which began in January 2011, opposite Lucy Durack as Glinda, Jemma Rix as Elphaba, David Harris as Fiyero and Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible. In 2011 he was part of the Australian cast performing Wicked in Singapore. Altogether Newton had a three-year run in this show.
In July 2012 Newton joined the Melbourne cast of Annie for a few weeks, taking over the role of President Roosevelt from Alan Jones.In March 2013 it was announced that Newton would be returning to the stage in producer John Frost's production of Grease The Musical which commenced in August 2013. Newton played disc jockey Vince Fontaine.
Newton played the Narrator in the 2015 Australian production of The Rocky Horror Show.
Other mediaNewton has appeared in several movies including:-
Newton published an autobiography, Bert!: Bert Newton's Own Story, in 1979.
Newton and his wife Patti, released a 1977 music album entitled The Bert & Patti Family Album.
LogiesNewton has been a part of the Logie Awards since the awards started in 1959. He has been nominated for many Logie Awards and has won several:
Newton has also hosted the Logies (1968–1980, 1982, 1984, 1989, 1993 and 2010, and co-host in 2006). He holds the record for both the most Logies hosted and the most Logies hosted in a continuous run. Some notable moments of his hosting include:
Honours and awards
Newton was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, for his service to the performing arts.
On 12 June 2006 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to the entertainment industry as a presenter, actor, comedian, and through support for a range of medical research and charitable organisations".
Newton was the first Melbourne-born King of Moomba in 1978.
"For Bert" was written by GTV-9's musical director Brian Rangott. The lyrics include: :Everything I do, :I do for Bert – :[...] :Some may think Bert's not much, :But they like his gentle touch – :Everything I do, :I do for Bert!
In 1997 Newton was the subject of a This Is Your Life tribute. His wife 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 earliest days.
In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal.
Show business awards include a Mo Award (1997), a Television Society of Australia award (1981 and 1983), three Penguin Citations and three Pater (Professional Excellence in Television and Radio Arts and Sciences) awards for radio.
To 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 No. 1 Australian TV star of the past 50 years.
On 1 July 2008, Newton was named Victorian of the Year.
On 23 July 2008, Channel 9 marked Newton's 70th birthday with a star-studded one-hour special of This Is Your Life hosted by Mike Munro.
Personal lifeNewton was reputed to have lived at home with his mother until the age of 36, prompting widespread gossip that he was gay. In 1974 he married Patti McGrath, a co-worker. The Newtons have a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Lauren. Matthew Newton is an actor and has appeared in a number of Australian films and television dramas. Lauren Newton married swimmer Matt Welsh.
In 1993, a gambling problem led Newton to near bankruptcy and a $1 million debt.
HealthIn November 2012, Newton underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery having been admitted to hospital twice in the twelve months prior.
Having suffered a bout of pneumonia, Bert Newton was admitted to hospital and then later discharged.