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Bert Newton to be farewell at state funeral, service televised across Australia

Performing icon Bert Newton will feature on Australian screens one last time as millions of people across the country prepare to tune in to a live stream of the 83-year-old’s state funeral service on Friday.

The showbiz-king will be farewelled at 10am at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. The service will be attended by fully vaccinated family, friends and colleagues.

While Covid-19 restrictions have limited those in attendance to 500 people, many more will be tuning into the live stream.

Newton died on October 30 from complications after having his leg amputated.

It was the final chapter in a long health battle involving several serious bouts of pneumonia, and then lifesaving quadruple bypass surgery in November of 2012 after having been admitted to hospital twice in the year prior.

In November last year there were fresh fears for the TV, radio and stage icon’s health after wife Patti posted a picture of him in a hospital bed to her Instagram account.

Then in May came the shocking update that an infection which started in Newton’s toe before Christmas 2020 had worsened to the point that doctors gave him a “life or death” ultimatum: Lose your leg, or you may die within months.

Newton faced some big life changes when he returned home to wife Patti after the amputation.

His glittering performing career has spanned generations since the late 1950s and the joy he brought to Australian living rooms will be remembered by millions on Friday.

Newton started his career in the industry with a bang when he was only 15-years-old, rejecting previous plans to join the priesthood.

On Melbourne Tonight, Bert Newton became a regular alongside Graham Kennedy. Channel 9
Camera IconOn Melbourne Tonight, Bert Newton became a regular alongside Graham Kennedy. Channel 9 Credit: Channel 9

In 1952, Bert was hired as a junior announcer on the Melbourne radio station 3XY. Two years later and he was a presenter of a program that was recorded on the street called Melbourne Speaks.

He then made his way to television, hosting The Late Show, before he making his debut on In Melbourne Today, in 1959. He soon joined the sister show In Melbourne Tonight, becoming a regular alongside the King of Television, Graham Kennedy.

In early 1960 he hosted The Bert Newton Show, and the duo appeared weekly on The Graham Kennedy Show on Channel 9.

A short stint back on radio, and he returned to TV when he was in the 1975 show The Don Lane Show as sidekick “barrel boy” to Don Lane that earned him the title of “Moonface”.

TV Week cover showing 1982 Gold Logie winner Bert Newton. Channel 9
Camera IconTV Week cover showing 1982 Gold Logie winner Bert Newton. Channel 9 Credit: Channel 9

Hosting gigs on game show Ford Superquiz, talent show New Faces and Tonight with Bert Newton followed before he was asked to host Good Morning Australia on Network Ten in 1992. He was the host of the program for 14 years before the show was cancelled in late 2005.

When he left the network in 2005, Bert Newton signed a three-year deal with Nine in 2006, going on to host Bert’s Family Feud, 20 To 1, and What A Year.

He even reprised his role as Logies host in 2006 when he co-hosted with former Gold Logie winners Lisa McCune, Georgie Parker, Ray Martin and Daryl Somers. He hosted the show solo in 2010.

In fact he went on to host he show more than 20 times.

Bert was named the number one Australian television star of the past 50 years in 2006 during the 50 Years 50 Stars special on Channel 9.

But he also added a number of starring roles in musical theatre to his resume, including in Beauty And The Beast (1995), The Sound Of Music (1999), The Producers (2012), Grease (2013) and Wicked (2009), where he played the role of the Wizard.

Bert Newton married wife Patti Newton in 1974 and have been by each other’s side ever since.

He leaves behind son Matthew, 43, and daughter Lauren, 40 – He is also a grandfather to their daughter’s six kids with husband, former swimmer Matt Welsh.

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