Bert Newton has spoken out about recent reports surrounding his health and marriage to wife Patti, with a family friend also revealing the entertainer’s wife of 42 years helps keep his gambling habit in check.
Bert was last week hospitalised for five days with pneumonia, sparking rumours the 78-year-old was on his deathbed.
However, in an interview with Channel Seven on Monday, the entertainer appeared outside his Melbourne home and clarified he was very much “alive and walking”.
“Any news of my impending death was just a little ahead of time, I hope,” he said.
He also shot down rumours he and Patti’s marriage was on the rocks, joking, “Patti was checked out too and she’s not pregnant”.
“I’m not having a lovechild, we’re not split, we’re not divorced,” Patti added.
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford, who is a “close friend” of the Newton family, spoke to The Kyle and Jackie O Show on Tuesday to discuss a magazine report alleging Bert and Patti were “at breaking point” over Bert’s gambling habit.
“They’re fine,” Ford said. “I rang Patti yesterday morning and said ‘have you split up again?’. She said, ‘No, he’s lying next to me in bed snoring and farting, do you want me to take a picture?’.”
What happens is Patti gives him some play money every week.”
Although recent photos of Bert leaving a TAB outlet made fans concerned his old habits had reemerged, Ford insisted Patti had the issue under control.
“He gambles a little bit,” Ford conceded. “What happens is Patti gives him some play money every week, I think it’s like a hundred bucks, what he chooses to do with that is his business.
“Yeah he goes to the TAB but you’re talking about 10 bucks each way. It was a problem in years gone by, but in those days he would just access the cash, the cash was rolling in, that’s not happening these days. Patti controls the purse strings, so it’s not a problem.”
Finally, Ford discussed the couple’s son Matthew, who lives in New York City and recently became engaged to American girlfriend Catherine Schneiderman.
In 2012, Matthew, who suffers from bipolar disorder, entered rehab for alcohol and drug abuse after being arrested in Miami and charged with battery and resisting arrest.
Before that, in 2010, Matthew’s former girlfriend Rachael Taylor took out an Apprehended Violence Order against him following two alleged domestic violence incidents.
Ford dismissed reports Matthew’s engagement had been called off, insisting he and Catherine were getting married but, “I don’t think they’ve actually set a date”.
“[Matthew] had a really bad time there and he was really off the rails and did some terrible things, but I think the best thing he did was get on a plane and get out of Australia – it’s giving him the breathing space that he needs and he’s getting all the right sort of medical help,” Ford said.
“Like a lot of very talented people, they’re slightly crazy and they’ve got to keep that in check.”