Legendary sports commentator Darrell Eastlake has died after a battle with Alzheimers disease. He was 75.
The Nine Network, where he called rugby league games for many years, announced his death at a NSW Central Coast nursing home on the Today show on Thursday.
Eastlake was known for his trademark booming voice and worked in television and radio for more than 40 years.
Eastlake earned fame with his commentary of State of Origin matches in the 1980s, his regular appearances on the Wide World of Sports and calling sports including Formula 1 and motorbike racing.
He retired from the Channel Nine in 2005.
Eastlake’s wife Julie spoke on A Current Affair in 2016 about her husband’s debilitating condition, saying it was difficult watching her husband fade before her eyes.
“If he falls I can’t pick him up — and he has fallen so many times,” she said.
“He gets very down because he thinks he’s forgotten, but he’s not forgotten, he’s really and truly not.
“I do a lot of crying when I leave the nursing home.
“I sit here and say to myself, ‘where’s my man gone?'”
Nine’s Director of Sport Tom Malone described Eastlake as “larger than life”.
“Darrell was a larger than life character who loomed into Australian households with excitement and authenticity,” he said.
“His impact on sports broadcasting was huge, transforming the way millions of Australians consumed and appreciated sport.”
Fans and former colleagues were quick to post their tributes to social media.
“A link to our youth disappears with the passing of people like Darrell Eastlake.”
Alan Jones and Ray Hadley pay tribute to broadcaster Darrell Eastlake.
— 2GB 873 (@2GB873) April 18, 2018
Saddened to hear the news that Darrell Eastlake has passed. A legendary Sports Commentator. #RIP
— Greg Clark (@greg_clarkie) April 18, 2018
Talk about your childhood watching sport… RIP the great Darrell Eastlake
— Gerard Middleton (@GMiddletonTAB) April 18, 2018
Nine News reporting that Daryl Eastlake has passed away.
Fine man, great broadcaster.
Long remembered for his State of Origin calls, and his outcries of "What a HUGE man," during weight-lifting at Commonwealth Games. Feel privileged, to have worked with him. Vale.
— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) April 18, 2018
Born on July 11, 1942, Eastlake worked as a Qantas baggage handler before running a surf shop and making surfboards in Cronulla.
He provided surf reports on Sydney radio station 2UW in the late 1960s and moved to Queensland to work full time for Gold Coast radio station 4GG, where he covering surfing and rugby league.
Eastlake returned to the New South Wales Central Coast in the 1970s and continued to work in radio before joining Channel Nine to call the weightlifting at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
He was famously removed from the commentary floor at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games after complaints about his loud and shrill delivery.
In a 2010 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Eastlake confessed he had no idea about weightlifting when first he called the sport.
“I start really loudly, calling blokes power packs, mini battleships and all that stuff,” he said.
“(Fellow commentator) David Vine takes me outside and he said, ‘Mate what are you doing? We call it the gentleman’s sport.’
“I said, ‘Well that’s how I call the football games and that’s what I’m going to do’. So I rang (then-Channel Nine executive producer David Hill) and go, ‘Mate, I’m copping some s— out here’ and Hilly said, ‘Mate, the bloody rooms here are riveted, you’re gonna turn this sport upside down’.”