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Farewell to a TV legend: Live updates from Bert Newton’s funeral

The TV icon is to be farewelled with a state funeral.
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Bert Newton’s death was always bound to rock the country. The performing icon’s career has spanned generations, with the 83-year-old being a staple on our screens since the late ‘50s.

Couple that with the countless testimonies of Bert’s heart of gold, it’s no surprise he is being honoured with a state funeral today on Friday 12th November.

While 500 guests were in attendance, so many more were watching via their screens as the TV veteran was remembered in an official send off at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, which started at 10am.

The funeral was live streamed, with major networks Nine, Seven and 10 all sharing footage from the ceremony.

In attendance, of course, were Bert’s widow, Patti Newton, his daughter Lauren along with her husband and six kids, longtime friend and entertainment reporter Peter Ford, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Premier Daniel Andrews, Sam Newman, Eddie Maguire, Daryl Somers, Chrissie Swan, Sam Pang, Molly Meldrum, Andy Lee, Rebecca Harding, Glenn Robins, Marina Prior, and more.

Young Talent Time favourite Silvie Paladino, who performed on the Midday show with Bert, sang the national anthem. This was followed by a tribute from Dan Andrews.

“Bert was colour TV long before the technology arrived,” he said. “He had a supreme talent, a gift indeed. And when things went off script when a show went off the rails, Bert thrived. He was in his element, witty, clever, cheeky.”

“Bert dedicated a lifetime to mentoring others, sharing his wisdom and experience behind the scenes. And to this day his legacy endures in the young actors, broadcasters and entertainers he helped along the way.”

The Premier also spoke about Bert’s partnership with Patti when he said they were “both formidable talents, both deeply in love”.

He ended his tribute by saying: “I think we can be certain that his credits will roll on and on and on. Vale Bert Newton.”

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Eddie Maguire delivered the eulogy at Bert Newton’s funeral. (Credit: Seven)

Eulogy

Eddie Maguire received the honour of eulogising Bert.

“I speak on behalf of those who worked with him, who loved watching Bert over a lifetime in show business as the consummate compere and entertainer,” Eddie said.

“On camera, on stage, behind the microphone, Bert Newton gave of himself to make a show work, a segment pop, make his colleagues look as good as they could be, to give everything for his beloved audience.”

He went on to share a story of when Bert gave one of his Gold Logies to an AIDs patient, before going on to say that the performer was such a legend that “to be even acknowledged by him was to feel like he had made it”.

“Bert never turned his back on his people. He joked, he sent them up, he understood them, but he was always there for them, and he never left them.”

“Bert never stopped evolving, never stopped learning, never lost his insatiable appetite for what’s new. He was the least- jaded old-fashioned performer you would ever meet.”

“Alongside Bob Hope, John Wayne or inebriated foreign star, it made no difference. Bert either made a performance great or saved the day.”

He went on to quote Bert’s industry friends and what the icon meant to them.

WATCH: Eddie McGuire’s Eulogy at Bert Newton’s Funeral (Article continues after video)

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“Hugh Jackman said, ‘By watching Bert, I learnt how to handle the spotlight with grace, dignity, honour and class’. Rove McManus said, ‘I lost a mentor and a friend. Our country lost an icon, but most importantly a family has lost their hero and soul mate’

“Rhonda Burchmore spoke of Bert being there always with encouragement. Paul Hogan said, ‘He was Mr Television. Never took himself seriously, but took his job seriously.’

“Phillip Adams wrote, ‘Bert is the electronic friend, he’s there when you want or need him. Bert is company.’ Russell Crowe, ‘Bert’s not about fashion or trends. He’s watched them all come and go. He’s about intellect, he’s about wisdom born of experience. My life is richer having him as a mate.'”

Eddie also about Bert and Patti’s enduring relationship, thanking the widow for sharing her husband with Australia.

“Your highs and your lows, your family, Matthew and Lauren, your grandchildren who filled Bert’s last few years with love and joy. There would always have been a Bert, but he was enhanced so much by his Patti.

“The young boy from Fitzroy who became a star, then a legend, then an institution, and now our greatest memory of the golden years of television. Forever… our Bert.”

Anthony Callea, who worked with Bert on Grease, sang The Prayer, accompanied by longtime musical director John Foreman.

Despite the many guests sharing their fond memories of Bert, front of everyone’s minds has been Patti Newton, who has been left grief-stricken after losing her husband.

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Anthony Callea sang The Prayer. (Credit: Seven)

Patti Newton’s heartbreak at losing Bert

Patti arrived to the service blowing kisses to the camera. While the widow won’t be speaking, she did plan the service for her late husband. 

Patti remained by Bert’s side for nearly 50 years of marriage. The fellow performer mourned her husband’s death soon before the couple were due to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary on November 9th.

Crestfallen at losing her soulmate, Patti addressed the public about the emotional chasm she and her family have experienced since Bert’s passing.

“It’s very, very devastating. All our hearts are breaking because he was just the most wonderful man,” she told reporters outside of the family home the day after his passing.

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

The performer also spoke about her final moments with her husband, explaining that she tragically missed his last breath.

“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.

“We have to just make sure that the love he gave us stays with us forever,” the 76-year-old added.

What’s more, after Olivia Newton-John penned a sweet tribute to her late friend on Instagram, expressing her condolences to Patti and the rest of Bert’s family in the process, Patti thanked the Grease star for her kind words, while reiterating that her “heart is broken”.

One of Patti’s oldest friends, Denise Drysdale, also spoke about the performer’s grief to Woman’s Day, emphasising that “Bert meant everything to Patti” and she was inconsolable on her friend’s behalf.

“They were one of the most loving and beautifully dedicated couples I’ve known.”

For Bert’s funeral, the TV icon’s longtime friend and entertainment reporter Peter Ford explained on The Morning Show that Patti had met with representatives from the Premier’s office to discuss the arrangements for the service.

“I think what Patti was very determined to do was to try and find that middle ground between it being a religious service, a mass, but also have the show business element as well,” Peter said.

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Bert is the father to Lauren Newton (not pictured) and grandfather to her six children. (Credit: Instagram)

Lauren Newton and Bert’s grandkids

Also mourning the loss of Bert is his daughter Lauren and her six children – whom she shares with husband Matt Welsh – Sam, 12, daughters Eva, 10, and Lola, seven, son Monty, three, daughter Perla, two, and most recently, son Alby.

A message was read out on her behalf by Bert’s longtime friend and colleague Peter Smith.

“I’m not sure where to even begin, or if I could ever put into words how much I love my dad,” it began.

“From the love I felt as a child to watching him laugh and play games with my own children, he made us feel so special and always brought laughter and fun to everything we did. When I was a little girl I always felt I was so lucky, I had two dads – one on TV and one at home. 

“Family always came first for dad and he included us in everything that he did. He and mum were a team and he wanted all of us around and to be part of everything he did. He always made me feel very special, and I knew I could always count on him.

“He was always there when I needed him, and he was always interested in everything I did, no matter how small. He was the greatest dad I could have wished for and he has been such a huge part of my children’s lives as well. We had so many special times together, and I am so glad that he had the chance to get to know Sam and Eva, Lola, Monty, Perla and Alby.”

“We were lucky they allowed us to be with him so much and it fell like the next best thing to having him at home. Saying goodbye has been heartbreaking for us all, especially mum. They loved one another so much and I know how he waited until he left the room to take his last breath because while she was with him he couldn’t have gone. My beautiful dad will be with us forever in our hearts and memories, but life will never be the same without him. I love you dad.”

Leading up to the service, Lauren didn’t say anything publicly about her dad’s passing. However, in the week before Bert’s death was announced, Lauren and her mum Patti captured the touching moment when Bert’s grandkids visited the TV veteran at his hospital bed.

“That’s what Happiness Is,” Patti captioned a photo of five of the kids plastered around Bert. The 83-year-old’s face was lit up with a smile as he clutched onto his grandchildren.

Bert, along with Patti, was extremely close with his grandkids. Last year, Lauren spoke to Now To Love about the benefits of living “30 seconds away” from her very-attentive parents.

“We live very close by and she (her mum, Patti) helps me out. We were always together even before kids. We would do things every day and it’s no different with the kids.

“There would be something wrong if a few days went by and they hadn’t seen Nanny and Poppy.”

And despite all the glitz and glamour Bert has encountered during his over 60 years in the media sphere, the TV icon remained adamant that he was happiest when spending time with his grandkids.

“They wouldn’t realise it at the moment, but they have made this one of the happiest times of my life,” Bert previously told the Herald Sun.

WATCH: Bert and Patti Newton’s best family photos. Story continues after video.

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Bert, along with Patti, was extremely close with his grandkids. Last year, Lauren spoke to Now To Love about the benefits of living “30 seconds away” from her very-attentive parents.

“We live very close by and she (her mum, Patti) helps me out. We were always together even before kids. We would do things every day and it’s no different with the kids.

“There would be something wrong if a few days went by and they hadn’t seen Nanny and Poppy.”

And despite all the glitz and glamour Bert has encountered during his over 60 years in the media sphere, the TV icon remained adamant that he was happiest when spending time with his grandkids.

“They wouldn’t realise it at the moment, but they have made this one of the happiest times of my life,” Bert previously told the Herald Sun.

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Bert and Patti’s son Matthew (right) is based in New York. (Credit: Getty)

Why Matthew Newton won’t be attending the funeral

Not in attendance at the funeral is Bert and Patti’s son Matthew. Patti previously confirmed to the Daily Mail that the actor, who is based in New York, would not be making the trip home for the ceremony due to “logistics” and COVID.

However, a message was read out on his behalf, also by Peter Smith.

“I’m very sorry that due to the pandemic I can’t be with you all there to celebrate dad,” the message began.

Swapping old showbiz stories and legends was how he (his Dad) and I, two Catholic Australian men of different generations, expressed our love and affection for one another without having to add — having to say it all the time.

“We exchanged the same stories and bits, hundreds of them, over and over, not caring that we already knew them, just loving to hear them again and again.”

The message went on to talk about his dad wanting to “pop the tension of an awkward situation and see another human being light up and laugh”.

“I honestly believe that that was the thing, apart from his family, that made dad the happiest. It was a super power, and he always tried to use it for good.

“Everyone knows he was a great entertainer, but what a lot of people don’t know about dad was that he wouldn’t just be around for the laughs. Those close to him experienced how he’d show up in the tough times too.”

Matthew also wrote about his dad’s relationship with his mum Patti, calling her a “lionness”.

“You two were a team, are a team, and even though your partner isn’t on stage any more, the show goes on and you’ll be OK. Mainly because you’ll have Lauren’s 97 children to take care of you. Truly, though, his grandkids became dad’s new favourite thing on the planet and Sam, Eva, Lola, Monty, Perla and Alby gave him a new lease of life in his seventh and eighth decade.”

“If he was here today, he would be entertaining, moving, sincere and mischievous, expertly saying all the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment. And that’s how he’d want this day to be with a wink, not a tear.

I’m going to really miss jamming with you, mate. Here’s looking at you, kid,” Matthew ended the message, speaking directly to his dad.

It was Peter Ford who first revealed that a message from Matthew will be read out during the proceedings.

“There will be a message that will be read, that he will compose himself, that will be read at the funeral as will other messages be read obviously but he will not be attending,” Peter said on The Morning Show.  

What’s more, the Looking for Alibrandi star is said to be returning Down Under after the funeral when things have settled down, to avoid taking attention away from his dad.

“As Matt and Patti begin to work out their next steps, he has told her he’s willing to bring Cat (his partner) home when the chaos has calmed down to remember Bert privately as a family,” a source revealed to New Idea .

Rumours of a rift between Matthew and his parents have been swirling for years. In 2012, Matthew fled Australia to New York under a cloud of controversy, facing accusations that he physically assaulted his exes, Rachael Taylor and Brooke Satchwell, along with a Sydney taxi driver and a Miami hotel clerk.

Since then, Matthew has reportedly undergone extensive rehab in the US, and now lives a quiet life on the Upper West Side with Catherine – daughter of former New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

Patti, meanwhile, recently put an end to the feud chatter in an interview with the Daily Mail Australia.

“There was no rift. He’s had many long conversations with Bert in the hospital, and that was all fine,” Patti told the publication.

A source close to the Underbelly star even told New Idea that he and his dad “became close again in Bert’s final months, which was a source of huge comfort to him”.

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Bert was admitted to hospital in November last year. (Credit: Instagram)

How did Bert Newton die?

Bert, who died at age 83, had been battling health complications for a while now. In November last year, it was Patti that revealed her husband had been admitted to hospital.

The following year, in May, Bert had to have his leg amputated due to an uncontrollable infection in his toe.

“It got worse … he was seeing doctors and specialists and they couldn’t seem to get it right, it kept on spreading.” Peter Ford told The Morning Rush with Sean and Kate.

“Basically he was told last week, you have a couple of months to live, or if you have your leg amputated, you’ll probably have a few years. So, he agreed to have the leg amputated on Saturday.”

Following the amputation, Bert entered into rehab. However, complications from the surgery as well his previous illnesses ultimately tainted the road to recovery.

“It was complications with everything,” Patti told the Daily Mail about the cause of her husband’s death. “When you have a leg amputated, you have to be on a lot of painkillers, and Bert had had, just this year alone, he’s had eight procedures, which all involved anaesthetics, and that affects you pretty badly.

“Your whole system and just everything closes down really. That was all,” she explained.

Bert had dealt with a myriad of serious illnesses in the past, including a bad bout of pneumonia and a stint in intensive care after undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Speaking to the Herald Sun previously, Patti gave an emotional insight into her husband’s ongoing road to recovery and admitted that “every morning is a bonus”.

“When he had his quadruple bypass, they said it was 50/50 chance,” she told the publication.

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Bert’s legacy will live on for years to come. (Credit: Getty Images)

Looking back at Bert Newton’s career

It’s no secret that Bert Newton was TV royalty. After starting his media career on the air waves, the veteran TV presenter made his small-screen debut in 1957 hosting The Late Show.

Two years later, he went on to host a daytime program called In Melbourne Today before appearing in a commercial for In Melbourne Tonight alongside his friend Graham Kennedy.

From there, he began to make regular appearances on the show – and he has since dominated every era of television.

After cementing his TV-star status on The Don Lane show in the 1970s, he went on to secure a gig on New Faces in 1976, replacing long-running compere Frank Wilson.

Five years later, the star presented Ford Superquiz alongside his wife Patti. He also briefly hosted a self-titled program called The Bert Newton Show as well as Tonight With Bert Newton.

In 1992, Bert switched gears from the Nine Network and headed over to Channel Ten to host Good Morning Australia – with great success. After 14 years, the show was cancelled, and Bert returned to Nine in 2006.

That same year he captained Bert’s Family Feud as well as 20 to 1. A year later he teamed up with comedian Julia Zemiro to host What A Year.

But Bert’s performing capabilities weren’t confined to a screen, with the media personality tackling live theatre multiple times.

The 83-year-old appeared as Professor Marvel/the Wizard of Oz in the stage production of The Wizard of Oz, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, Franz Liebkind in The Producers and Max in The Sound of Music.

WATCH BELOW: Bert Newton’s career through the years. Story continues after video.

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He also took over the role of The Wizard in Wicked after the sudden death of performer Rob Guest, as well as the role of President Roosevelt in Annie from Alan Jones.

Bert additionally had a small role as disc jockey Vince Fontaine in Grease The Musical and was the narrator in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Needless to say, Bert’s legacy is plentiful and will be remembered for years to come.

For more on the life and legacy of Aussie TV legend Bert Newton, read more below

Why Matthew Newton isn’t attending his father Bert’s funeral

Australia’s golden couple: Looking back at Bert and Patti Newton’s relationship

Bert Newton 1938-2021: “He gave us so much joy!”

Bert Newton celeb tributes

Australian TV royalty: A glimpse at Bert Newton’s career through the years

Keeping up with the Newtons! Bert and Patti Newton’s best family photos

Bert Newton’s pride and joy! Meet the TV legend’s six gorgeous grandkids

This article originally appeared on our sister site New Idea.

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