Australian media and television personalities have paid tribute to Bert Newton, a national icon, who made people laugh – and cry – in radio, theatre and television.
Newton’s death, at the age of 83, was announced on Saturday evening.
He had been battling ill health for months and had been in hospital since March.
The Prime Minister said “Australia loved Bert” and that “there will never be another like him”.
“Bert came into our homes and made himself very welcome. He was a regular guest and we always looked forward to his next visit,” Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“Bert Newton was from the golden era of television when we all seemed to watch the same thing.
“They were the times of variety programs on TV “the King” Graham Kennedy, Don Lane, Mike Walsh, Jeannie Little and Daryl on Hey Hey!
“Bert could give and take a joke. He could laugh at himself, I’m sure that’s what made Australians warm to him as much as we did.
“Australians also understood his steadfast love of Patti, and her steadfast strength.
“To Patti and the family, Jen and I send our love, and we send the country’s love as well.”
Perth entertainer Rove McManus spoke for his devastated industry with a highly emotional tweet.
“I don’t know that I’m ready to accept this yet,” McManus said.
“Today I lost a mentor and friend, our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soul mate.
“Sending love to all the Newtons, especially Patti. My heart is broken. Rest In Power, Albert Watson Newton.
“I’m devastated,” entertainer Ronda Burchmore tweeted, while entertainment writer Angela Bishop paid her respects.
“What a loss. There was no one quite like the great Bert Newton. To have lost him at 83 is still too soon, because he is truly irreplaceable. Brilliant, cheeky, generous, kind.”
Former Victoria Premier Jeff Kennett remembered Newton this way: “He had been part of our lives for so many years,” he said on social media. “Providing laughter and joy, generosity for so many good causes.”
Reporter Peter Ford, who broke the news of Newton’s death on Twitter, posted a photo taken of the Australian television great taken just one week ago, surrounded by his grandchildren.
“Smiling and with his adored grandkids,” Ford said. “He never stopped fighting until the very end.”
Even Australia’s politicians paid tribute to the 83-year-old, whose death follows health issues including having his leg amputated earlier this year due to a life-threatening infection.
“Bert Newton was an Australian icon. A family favourite who was welcomed into thousands of Western Australian lounge rooms over several decades,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Saturday night.
“His loss will be felt by people across the State, many of whom who have grown up with him in their lives. Bert Newton was a star among stars. He defied the trend we so often see in commercial TV, by enduring through the years.
“He was warm, he was versatile but most importantly, he was self deprecating. And his ability to bring people together is a rare gift, appreciated by everyone who had the fortune of working with him.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “For decades, Bert Newton lit up Australian screens with laughter and joy. He was part of the very fabric of our television landscape and a key part of the continuing evolution of the silver screen.”
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese also took to Twitter to pay his respects. “My heart goes out to his family who have lost a husband, a father and a friend. And to Australia who have lost an icon.”
Bill Shorten said: “Vale Bert Newton, a true believer and a world class entertainer.”