Entertainment ‘The Bert?’: How showbiz icon Bert Newton’s legacy hopes to live on in the entertainment world

‘The Bert?’: How showbiz icon Bert Newton’s legacy hopes to live on in the entertainment world

Bert Newton gold Logie
One idea is that the Gold Logie be renamed ‘The Bert’ in honour of the legend of the Australian television industry. Photo: 9News
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As the entertainment world mourns the death of showbiz legend Bert Newton amid confirmation of a state funeral, a push by industry heavyweights to have his name immortalised forever is gaining momentum.

On Monday, long-time Nine employee and host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Eddie McGuire and music industry icon Molly Meldrum said the Gold Logie should be renamed in honour of the ultimate Logies host.

“We’ve got the Graham Kennedy Award for the best newcomer, and now you’ve got this opportunity … the Logies have been in hiatus for two years because of COVID, it might be an opportunity to reimagine the whole thing and come up with something to celebrate.

“It’s been denigrated for too long. For people in the industry, it is the big night – we should actually lean into it these days and come up with the type of show we want,” McGuire said on Nine’s Today.

In the same way the sporting world remembers its champions with the AFL’s Brownlow Medal (named after Geelong player and administrator Charles Brownlow) for the competition’s best and fairest player, the Allan Border Medal for best cricketer, or the NRL’s Dally M Medal (named in honour of rugby league great Herbert Henry ‘Dally’ Messenger), the TV industry should remember Bert.

“We are good at it with sport,” he said.

“It is important that we don’t lose what the essence of Bert Newton and his contribution to our show business is forever,” he said.

Countdown‘s Meldrum agreed, telling News Corp: “Bert Newton was the Logies.”

“He held that show together … the Logies should definitely honour Bert in that way, by naming the Gold Logie after him.”

Mr Entertainment’s ‘sentimental’ attachment to Logies

Melbourne-born Newton started in the radio business aged 12 and went on to scale the heights of Australian entertainment on stage and screen.

Alongside Graham Kennedy and Don Lane, he was part of a trio known as the kings of Australian television.

His TV credits include In Melbourne Tonight, The Graham Kennedy Show, The Don Lane Show, Good Morning Australia, New Faces, Bert’s Family Feud and 20 to 1.

On stage he played roles in the musicals Wicked, Annie, Grease and as narrator in The Rocky Horror Show.

He hosted the Logies 19 times, took home 18 statuettes, four of which were Gold Logies.

In an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2017, he reflected on exactly what the Logies meant to him.

“We had a lot of people coming over from Hollywood,” he said.

“John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Sammy Davis Jr, Bob Hope, Sophia Loren.”

“I’ve been a film buff all my life and my special interest is the movies of the ’40s and the ’50s,” Bert said. “There are certain moments in my history of the Logies when there was a special aura in the room.”

Bert handed out a lot of Logies to stars, including someone dear to him: “The thing I’m quite sentimental about is one of the first Logies I gave out as compere,” he said.

“It was in 1969 and I presented it to a beautiful young blonde girl named Patti McGrath, who is now Patti Newton.”

Bert Newton in 2002, playing in the Wizard of Oz at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. Photo: AAP

What about renaming the Gold Logie ‘The Bert’?

Former Gold Logie winners Ray Martin and Grant Denyer spoke to radio veteran Steve Price on Monday on online news outlet The Australia Today, with one suggestion being the Gold Logie be renamed to The Bert.

Speaking from Bathurst, Family Feud‘s Denyer told Price when asked about The Bert: “‘The Bert’ is a great idea. Short and sweet and to the point. He was Mr Entertainment.”

“There was no one better. The mould has been broken now that we’ve lost him and it will never be the same again.

Among hundreds of tributes, comedian Adam Hills summed it up: “Australian TV wouldn’t be what it is without Bert.

“It’s up to us all to take what he taught us, and keep his spirit alive.”

The TV Week Logie Awards are preparing to host the event on the Gold Coast next year after cancelling the past two years’ night of nights because of COVID-19.

Are Media‘s group publisher Fiona Connolly told Nine in September: “We will return to Queensland mid-2022 and promise the TV WEEK Logie Awards will bring an overdue and deserved night of glamour, celebration and recognition of Australia’s outstanding television industry.”

The New Daily contacted Are Media for comment on the push to rename the Gold Logie.

Patti married Bert on November 9, 1974. Photo: Getty

Patti Newton ‘devastated’

The four-time Gold Logie award-winning entertainer, who had a leg amputated in May this year due to a life-threatening infection, died on Saturday evening age 83 at a private clinic in Melbourne.

With their granddaughters Eva and Lola by her side, his widow Patti spoke to reporters on Sunday outside the family home in Hawthorn East, revealing Newton’s final moments in hospital.

“It’s very, very devastating. All our hearts are breaking because he was just the most wonderful man,” she said, Seven News reported.

“I left at ten past seven, and I was just pulling around to come into my drive and I get the call to say he’d taken his last breath at 7.22pm.

“So I missed him, but maybe he didn’t want me to be there for his last breath.

“He had such a fabulous attitude. And he gave us so much joy right up to the end.

“I love that attitude of his. He was never going to give up, and that’s what we have to take with us, don’t we girls?

“We have to just make sure that the love he gave us stays with us forever.”