Australian entertainment legend Bert Newton has died at the age of 83.
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 at a private clinic in Melbourne, according to media reports.
The Nine Network, with which Newton—affectionately known as Moonface—was longest associated, confirmed the news which sparked a widespread response from high-profile entertainers and politicians.
“Australian TV wouldn’t be what it is without Bert,” comedian Adam Hills tweeted.
“It’s up to us all to take what he taught us, and keep his spirit alive.”
Fellow comedian Rove McManus said in a tweet he was heartbroken.
“I don’t know that I’m ready to accept this yet. Today I lost a mentor and friend, our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soul mate,” McManus said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Newton “was from the golden era of television when we all seemed to watch the same thing”.
“There was a familiarity that connected us to Bert, but it also connected us to each other. We could laugh together. That was his gift,” he said.
“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. Even when a joke misfired, he had that ability to scramble in a way that made us laugh, and put everyone at ease.”
Melbourne-born Newton started in the radio business aged 12 and scaled 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.
“Bert Newton was a giant of our industry, entertaining generations of Australians across our television screens,” Nine’s director of television Michael Healy said in a statement.
“He brought unbridled joy and laughter into our homes as part of so many programs, partnerships and formats.”
Newton is survived by his wife of more than 46 years, Patti, children Lauren and Matthew, plus grandchildren.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Australia has “lost an icon.”
“My heart goes out to his family who have lost a husband, a father and friend,” he tweeted.
Former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett also paid tribute among the torrent of condolences.
“Providing laughter and joy, and generosity for so many good causes. Patti, we are thinking of you and your family,” he said on Twitter.