Obituary: Reg Gorman

Reg Gorman, the actor best known as Jack Fletcher, the barman in The Sullivans, has died a few days after his 89th birthday. The actor had been battling cancer.

His granddaughter, actress Olivia Deeble, posted the news to social media on Thursday.

With a background in theatre and vaudeville, Gorman made guest appearances in early television dramas Whiplash and Consider Your Verdict.

He went on to appear in Homicide (pictured above), Contrabandits, Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, I’ve Married A Bachelor, Riptide, The Rovers, Woodinda Animal Doctor and Barrier Reef before his first regular TV role in the sitcom Mrs Finnegan in 1970.

After appearances in Boney, Division 4, Our Man In The Company, Matlock Police, The Bluestone Boys, Bluey and Rush, Gorman scored his next ongoing role as Jack Fletcher in The Sullivans. He stayed with the popular drama for its entire six-year run.

He continued to appear in many Australian series in the decades to follow, including I Can Jump Puddles, The Henderson Kids, Prisoner, A Country Practice, The Man From Snowy River, The Wayne Manifesto, Neighbours, Something In The Air and as Harry Patterson in the children’s comedy series Fergus McPhail.

Among his last credited roles are guest appearances in ABC comedies Problems, Woodley and Get Krackin’.

Reg Gorman and wife Judith Roberts in 1971

Reg Gorman is survived by wife, actress Judith Roberts, three children, including actresses Kate and Charmaine Gorman, and granddaughter Olivia Deeble.

Source: IMDB, Olivia Deeble. TV Times, 24 March 1971. TV Week, 19 January 1980

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Obituary: Brian Henderson

Brian Henderson, for so many years the face of National Nine News in Sydney, has died at the age of 89.

Having already beaten melanoma, prostate, bowel and throat cancer over the years, in 2020 he revealed that he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer and chose not to undergo major surgery and to let nature take its course.

He passed away with his wife of 55 years, Mardi, and daughters by his side.

He was born in New Zealand in 1931. By the 1950s he was working in Sydney radio. Once television arrived, he quickly became a constant presence at TCN9 for over forty years, as a newsreader and for 14 years the host of the pop music program Bandstand, which screened nationally.

He hosted the popular music show through to 1972, winning a TV Week Gold Logie in 1968 for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.

After the demise of Bandstand, Henderson continued to read the news at TCN9. He survived Nine’s ill-fated attempt in the 1970s at a dual Sydney-Melbourne news bulletin, News Centre Nine, and fought back to dominate the ratings despite every effort by rival networks to topple him.

He retired from Nine in 2002 but in later years made a low-key return to television to narrate a documentary for Foxtel based on the 1977 Granville train disaster.

In 2013 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards‘ Hall of Fame.

In a statement from Nine, Chairman Peter Costello, paid tribute to Henderson:

“Brian Henderson was the best of the best, he was iconic. The ultimate professional and the trusted face of television news for generations of Australians. Hendo was not just a much loved newsman he also brought modern pop music to generations of Australian teenagers through his hosting role on Bandstand.

“He was trusted, he had a warmth that he brought into the living rooms of millions of Australians. He will be deeply missed but his giant legacy and contribution will live on in the DNA of Nine.”

Darren Wick, Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, said:

“Hendo was much loved and idolised by everyone of us lucky enough to have worked with him and learn from him.

“He was the epitome of credibility, reliability and clarity. He set the standard that we aspire to live up to night every night of the week.”

Source: Nine News, Nine For Brands

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Obituary: Dieter Brummer

Dieter Brummer, best known as Shane Parrish in Home And Away, has died at the age of 45.

He is reported to have been found by police doing a welfare check at his home. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Brummer was 16 years old when made his acting debut as Shane Parrish in Home And Away. He became one of the show’s major drawcards and teen idols, and Shane’s pairing and eventual marriage to Angel Brooks (Melissa George) made them Home And Away‘s most celebrated couple.

He collected two TV Week Silver Logies for Most Popular Actor and was nominated twice for the Gold Logie before leaving the series in 1996, after 864 episodes.

He later starred in the soap opera parody Shark Bay (pictured below) for Foxtel and other credits included Medivac, The Man From Snowy River, A Model Daughter: The Killing of Caroline Byrne and Crash Palace.

He starred in the Nine Network series Underbelly and also had roles in Rescue Special Ops, Neighbours and Winners And Losers. 

He was a contestant in the reality show Celebrity Circus and in a celebrity challenge on Sale Of The Century. He was a presenter on a 1996 special The World’s Greatest Nude Moments and appeared, as himself, in the comedy series Review With Myles Barlow.

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Source: ABC News, IMDB. TV Week, 25 December 1993, 9 July 1994, 6 May 1995, 29 July 1995, 23 December 1995, 23 March 1996, 27 April 1996


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Obituary: John Cornell

John Cornell, filmmaker, actor and director, has died at the age of 80.

He passed away peacefully, ending a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, with his wife, Delvene Delaney, and eldest daughter by his side at his home in Byron Bay.

Born in Kalgoorlie in 1941, he worked at Perth’s Daily News newspaper before becoming a producer on the original A Current Affair in 1971. It was there that he was looking for a satirist to present a regular commentary on current events and came across Paul Hogan, a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge who had been interviewed on the program.

The pair formed a partnership, with Hogan the performer and Cornell as his manager and co-writer, initially working for no fee. They went on to form The Paul Hogan Show for the Seven Network in 1973, including a special, Hogan In London.

By the end of 1976, they had come across to the Nine Network in a three-year deal rumoured to be worth $1.5 million. The Paul Hogan Show continued to be a hit, with Cornell as producer and also appearing on-screen as Hogan’s dim-witted surfie mate, Strop.

Cornell was also an instrumental figure in the formation of Nine mogul Kerry Packer‘s rebel cricket competition, World Series Cricket, which was depicted in the 2012 mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War.

His partnership with Hogan also led to making Crocodile Dundee. Made in 1986, it is still regarded as the most profitable Australian film ever made and which made Hogan, playing outback bushman Mick Dundee, a hit in Hollywood. The franchise went on to have two sequels.

In a statement issued to media by the family: “After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, John concentrated his efforts on philanthropy, supporting his community and worthy environmental, sporting and medical causes.

“A classic Australian character, John Cornell made the lives he touched much richer, not only through donations, but also through his generosity of spirit, humour, humility and honour.

“A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go.”

John Cornell is survived by his wife, Delvene Delaney, and three daughters.

Source: TV Guide, 6 October 1973. TV Times, 26 February 1977. TV Week, 14 January 1978. Sydney Morning Herald, Nine News, ABC.

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Seven Gold Coast farewells Rod Young

Queensland newsreader Rod Young on Thursday night presented his last news bulletin for the Gold Coast edition of Seven News. His retirement ends a career spanning 45 years.

He started in radio and made the move to television in 1987 (pictured) as chief newsreader for ABC News in Brisbane.

He left ABC in October 2002, starting at Seven News in Brisbane a few weeks later, reading the news alongside Kay McGrath. Living on the Gold Coast, in 2016 he switched to reading the Gold Coast edition of Seven News from its local studio.

YouTube: Dan Martin

YouTube: Dan Martin

YouTube: Australian TV Fan

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Obituary: David Leckie

David Leckie, former executive at the Seven and Nine networks, has died at the age of 70 after a long illness.

He had a career spanning four decades, rising from the role of sales executive at GTV9, Melbourne, in the late 1970s to becoming one of the most powerful figures in the Australian television industry.

He was appointed Managing Director of the Nine Network in 1990, and Chief Executive Officer in 1994 — leading Nine through the return of ownership to the Packer empire and maintaining a consistent period of ratings dominance as the industry approached the advent of digital television. He was unceremoniously dumped by Kerry Packer, via his son James, in 2002 as the scapegoat for the industry’s change in ratings measurement platforms which saw Nine suddenly shown in a less flattering light.

He was then persuaded by Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes to come across to lead his network in 2003. Leckie held several senior roles with the Seven group, including Chief Executive Officer of Seven Network, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Seven Media Group and Seven West Media, and a Director of Seven Network Limited, Seven West Media and Seven Group Holdings.

Under his tenure, Seven lifted its profile from perennial runner-up status to be the market leader for over a decade. He stepped down from the CEO role in 2012 but continued to act as consultant to the network until 2016. Last year, he returned to Seven in a mentoring capacity.

In a statement issued by Seven, Stokes paid tribute to Leckie’s contribution:

“David achieved the turnaround quickly and effectively, building a winning team, financial and programming model, which delivered us leadership of the TV industry for many years.

“He had a magnificent grasp of television and what people wanted to enjoy, whether it be news and current affairs or light entertainment programming, and he achieved success in every aspect of his leadership of Seven. He leaves a great legacy and I pass on my sympathies to Skye, Harry, Ben and Tim and the rest of his family, who he loved very much.

“Vale my friend David.”

Current Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton, said:

“David was a true legend of the Australian media industry and a loved part of the Seven family. Everyone at Seven will miss him enormously.

“Inspiring, engaging, loud, passionate and famously difficult at times, he was an extraordinary sales person and an intuitive TV programmer. Without a doubt he was the best TV executive this country has ever seen and an important influence and mentor for so many people and careers. He was once labelled the last of the rock star CEOs and I’d say that was a pretty good description.

“David was the reason I got into television and was a great friend. My heartfelt sympathies go to Skye and their boys. There will only ever be one David Leckie. It was a great privilege to have known and worked with him.”

Nine Network CEO Mike Sneesby also paid tribute:

“David Leckie was a giant of television. He contributed enormously to the success we all shared with him here at Nine, his instincts and leadership heralded the golden era of Australian television. He adored his family and so many of us stayed in touch as a friend even after he left. He set the culture of excellence at Nine that still exists in our DNA today and we thank him for that.”

David Leckie is survived by second wife Skye, their sons Harry and Ben, and son Tim from his first marriage.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Seven West Media, Nine, TV Tonight, Sydney Morning Herald, Seven News. Who Killed Channel 9?, Gerald Stone, 2007.

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Obituary: Mary Ward

Actress Mary Ward, best known as Jeanette “Mum” Brooks in Prisoner, has died peacefully in a nursing home at the age of 106.

Born in Western Australia in 1915, she went to the United Kingdom in the 1930s to pursue a successful acting career. She had just signed a long term contract to work at London’s West End when World War II broke out. With the London theatre circuit closed, she returned to Australia to continue her professional career. As well as theatre work, she also starred in radio plays and serials and became one of the first female announcers for ABC radio. Shortly after television arrived in 1956, she starred in the play Roundabout, one of the first dramas performed on Australian television. She also starred in The Twelve Pound Look and in Captain Carvallo — the latter performed on the opening night of ABC’s Ripponlea studios in 1958.

She continued to work in theatre and radio and made guest appearances in television series including Homicide, Power Without Glory, Rush, Cop Shop and The Young Doctors. In 1978, she was cast as inmate “Mum” Brooks (pictured) in Prisoner and featured during the show’s first months on air before health concerns forced her to leave. She returned to the series for a brief run in 1981.

She later appeared in Sons And Daughters as Dee Morrell, and as Mrs Granger in Neighbours.

Other credits included The Henderson Kids, A Country Practice, I Can Jump Puddles, The Damnation Of Harvey McHugh, Blue Heelers and Born To Run, an Australian production for Walt Disney.

Source: IMDB, TV Tonight, 9Honey, The Australian Jewish Herald. TV News-Times, 25 September 1959.

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Obituary: Jonathan Coleman

Television and radio personality Jonathan Coleman has died surrounded by family after a four-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 65 years old.

His son Oscar issued a statement on behalf of the family earlier today:

Born in the UK in 1956, he was working in advertising in Australia and came to fame as a reporter on the children’s show Simon Townsend’s Wonder World in 1979. His reporting style, and the comical characters that he portrayed in the show, made him a favourite with viewers.

He formed a successful on-air partnership with Ian ‘Dano’ Rogerson on radio station Triple J and then at Triple M. They worked together on television hosting Wavelength for the Nine Network and later Have A Go, Saturday Morning Live and Late Night With Jono And Dano for the Seven Network. Coleman also appeared on Australia Live on New Year’s Day in 1988.

He returned to his native United Kingdom and had a successful radio and television career there for over 15 years, while continuing to maintain ties to Australia, appearing on Tonight Live With Steve Vizard and Hey Hey It’s Saturday and appearing as a UK correspondent on Sunrise.

Returning to Australia, Coleman continued to work on radio and television, most recently as a presenter on Studio 10 and as narrator on the children’s program, The Koala Brothers. He also made a cameo appearance on Neighbours and guest appearances on Spicks And Specks, The Celebrity Apprentice Australia and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. 

In 2015 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the broadcast media industry, and to the community..

Jonathan Coleman is survived by his wife of 30 years, Margot, and children Oscar and Emily.

Source: TV Week, 25 October 1980. IMDB.


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50 years since Pick-A-Box ended

It is 50 years ago today that Pick-A-Box ended an era as Australian television’s first long-running quiz show.

It was not the first quiz show on Australian television — though its existence as a radio program pre-dated television by several years — but it was the first to capture a significant national following and it outlasted all of its early contemporaries.

Hosted by Tennessee-born Bob Dyer and his Australian wife Dolly, it began on radio in 1948 before making its television debut in March 1957, initially on Saturday nights before moving to Mondays in 1960.

Launching the catchphrase “the money or the box” into the language, Bob Dyer’s popularity saw him win the TV Week Gold Logie in 1961 (pictured with Dolly). He also won a Logie for Best Compere in 1962, and a special Logie for “TV Quizmaster Of The Decade” in 1968. Wife Dolly also won an honorary Logie in 1966 — “For Her Cheerful Devotion To Bob And Her Show”.

Such was the show’s success that even its champions went on to become celebrities. The most famous was schoolteacher Barry Jones (pictured above with Dyer and fellow champion George Black), who was known to challenge questions put to him. Footage of Jones’ debating the accuracy of Dyer’s question about “the first British Governor-General of India” has become the show’s most defining moment and one of the oft-repeated clips in TV flashback specials. Jones appeared on the show at various times between 1960 and 1968. He went on to become one of Australia’s first talkback radio hosts and later entered state and federal politics.

YouTube: Classic Australian TV

Pick-A-Box continued through the 1960s with strong ratings for the Seven Network, but by 1969, the Dyers, who packaged the show for Seven and sponsor BP, had begun to wonder that the show had perhaps run its course. Despite the various quiz show innovations that it had introduced over the years, they felt it was losing its distinctiveness among a growing trend towards game and quiz shows. Knowing that the show still had the support of Seven and BP, they continued with it for a further two years before finally deciding to pull the pin in March 1971.

YouTube: JiMemes

The final “regular” episode of Pick-A-Box aired on 21 June 1971, with the final, airing on 28 June 1971, taking the form of a nostalgic special paying tribute to the show’s two hosts and some of the show’s memorable moments.

The Dyers’ contribution to television was recognised with the pair receiving a special TV Week Gold Logie in 1971 (pictured below with fellow Gold Logie winners Maggie Tabberer and Gerard Kennedy), and both being honoured in the Queen’s Birthday honours that year.

The pair then moved to Queensland in retirement, pursuing their love of big-game fishing and claiming a number of world records and titles in that field. Bob continued an association with BP, fronting newsreel films and documentaries sponsored by the company, but the pair largely kept out of the spotlight. They made a rare television appearance in 1977 as part of the 21st anniversary celebration of Australian television.

Bob Dyer passed away in 1984, and Dolly in 2004.

Despite its success, the Pick-A-Box format did not return to TV until 1981, when Bert and Patti Newton hosted Ford Superquiz for two seasons on Nine.

The format made another return in 1989, as Superquiz, hosted by Mike Walsh and Deborah Hutton for Network Ten.

Source: TV Week, 26 April 1962, 3 July 1971. TV Times, 31 March 1971, 1 October 1977.


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