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The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is celebrating the life and work of ‘The King’ of Australian television, Graham Kennedy, with a new online exhibition featuring memorable, rare and personal clips, as well as tributes and artefacts that span his more than four-decade long career across radio, television and film.
Graham Kennedy, the boy from Balaclava, was one of Australia’s most beloved television stars. He shot to fame in Australian living rooms with In Melbourne Tonight 60 years ago, on 6 May 1957. He would depart the show 12 years later in 1969 as ‘The King’ of Australian TV. His loveable antics as a presenter, comedian and actor were displayed across a 40-year career: from his early days on live variety television with riotous comedy sketches and an enduring partnership with Bert Newton on In Melbourne Tonight and The Graham Kennedy Show; through to top-rating game show Blankety Blanks and later, current affairs program Coast to Coast.
NFSA Television Curator Helen Tully said about the online exhibition: ‘It is wonderful to bring the prodigious talent and life of Graham Cyril Kennedy, our first Australian TV star, to both a new generation and to those who already knew and loved him. This exhibition enables us to take a glimpse into Graham’s world and allows his voice to guide us across his journey in radio, film and television - the communication media of the 20th century. We hope through this exhibition that we have helped to fulfil his wish to “live on in people’s hearts.”’
As an icon of the Australian entertainment industry, Kennedy’s colleagues have praised his extraordinary talent.
Patti Newton said: ‘IMT was a wonderful start to my adult working life. Graham was such a perfectionist, but everyone saw the genius in him. Bert always said he was the best editor of a script he’d ever known.’
In Melbourne Tonight scriptwriter Mike McColl Jones said: ‘It didn't take me long to realise that Graham had an aura that commanded respect from friends, workmates and strangers alike. He had those great ingredients that all superstars have - unpredictability and mystery!’
Nine’s voice-over legend Pete Smith said: ‘In performance Graham had a magic spark and those of us privileged to work with him benefitted from the warmth of his amazing talent.’
The online exhibition is available here: https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/online-exhibitions. Curated collections with extended content are also available: https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated
NFSA Television Curator Helen Tully is available for interviews. For more information, please contact Miguel Gonzalez, Manager National Media on (02) 8202 0114 / 0404 281 632, or email: Miguel.gonzalez [at] nfsa.gov.au ()