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.
Source: IMDB, Wikipedia, TV Times. TV Week, 4 April 1970. TV Week, 16 July 1977.
Yes I’m very sad to hear about Stuart’s death. Strangely enough, on Tuesday I was actually thinking about Stuart and reminiscing a bit about the wonderful job he did in hosting Graham Kennedy’s funeral exactly 10 years ago now, and then the next morning I got a shock when I heard about his death on the radio. Still also think about his laughable antics at Blankety Blanks, and let’s not forget his more serious dramatic side. May Stuart rest in peace.
What a full and interesting life. Stuart was one of the nicest people.
For a couple of years he was at ATN News doing location interviews with
a diverse range of newsmakers. He was a very good interviewer, news crews all loved working with him – he was funny, good company and out on a job always just one of the crew never the celebrity. Rare quality even in those days.
He was also creative. Made a short film when the mini -minor came out –
somehow talked British Motors into the loan of 6 cars and drivers for the week end- had them drive all over Sydney bumper to bumper and make a
centremede shape – set to music it was hilarious. Also did some black comedy
sketches on film for Mavis B show. Good memories of a very funny man.
When only the best will do…… and isn’t that all the time…… RIP Stuart