Stuart Wagstaff, veteran entertainer and showbiz identity, has died in a Sydney hospital at the age of 90.
English-born Wagstaff first came to Australia in the 1950s to star in the JC Williamson production Not In The Book. This was followed by starring roles in stage productions of My Fair Lady and The Sound Of Music.
One of his first television appearances was in the play Seagulls Over Sorrento, which was performed live to air from HSV7, Melbourne, in 1960. He also starred in Whiplash, a 1960s British production filmed in Australia, and guest starred in an episode of Homicide.
As a TV host Wagstaff presented the variety series Studio A and panel show Beauty And The Beast.
After a stint hosting Tonight in Sydney, Wagstaff was one of the successors to Graham Kennedy as host of In Melbourne Tonight. The program, which became known as Tonight With Stuart Wagstaff, lasted around 18 months. This was followed by a guest appearance in the drama series The Godfathers.
Later in the decade he was part of the ensemble of regular panellists on the top-rating game show Blankety Blanks (pictured above with Carol Raye and host Graham Kennedy). He hosted the 1978 revival of the talent quest series Showcase for the 0-10 Network and starred in the telemovie All At Sea.
For several years he hosted Stuart Wagstaff’s World Playhouse for ABC and starred in Australian comedy specials featuring Benny Hill and Dick Emery.
In 1998 Wagstaff was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in recognition for service to the community, in particular for his regular association with the Perth Telethon — dating back to 1968 (pictured).
Although he continued to appear on stage Wagstaff still made the occasional television appearance. Later TV credits included Good Morning Australia, Midday, Bullpitt!, A Country Practice, GP, All Saints and Pizza. Wagstaff was also “MC” for Graham Kennedy’s funeral in 2005.
But for many viewers Wagstaff will be best remembered for his long-running series of commercials for a brand of cigarettes. He made over 100 commercials over two decades. He later regretted his involvement in encouraging people to smoke, but at the time the dangers were not known.