Graham Kennedy in Europe and India, 1961
Excerpts from film footage featuring Graham Kennedy enjoying a three-week overseas working holiday at the expense of Australian shirt-maker Glo-Weave. Graham is seen at the start of his journey answering questions for a possible future edition of In Melbourne Tonight; during refuelling in Darwin; stopping in Madras (now Chennai) and meeting people in Bombay (Mumbai), India; then sightseeing in Rome and visiting London. Locations visited include the Colosseum and The Forum in central Rome and the Cecil Gee clothing store in the west end of London. The footage includes occasional cut-aways to Glo-Weave shirts, in reference to the sponsor of the trip.
In the process of negotiating a new contract with GTV9, Kennedy had wrangled a three-week holiday abroad, paid for by one of his most appreciative sponsors, Glo-Weave shirts. The 20-day adventure would be accompanied by In Melbourne Tonight (IMT) producer Bill Beams, who would shoot footage of Kennedy in each location. Film was taken and sent back to GTV where it would be edited and included in various editions of IMT while Kennedy was still abroad. During these weeks, Bert Newton filled in as compere of both the local IMT and national The Graham Kennedy Channel 9 Show editions.
While in Rome, Graham had a chance meeting with Livio Alliotti, a former St Kilda hire-car driver now working in town. Consequently, Alliotti’s cousin, Silvana, assisted Graham as Roman tour guide. She was quickly drafted to appear as one of the two women sitting by the Trevi Fountain for the sponsor’s next filmed advertisement. With Graham resplendent in his Glo-Weave shirt, the set-up saw the suitably entranced local admirers (Silvana and another woman, Anna) walk off arm-in-arm with the stylish Aussie.
After these friendly encounters, Graham asked her to visit Australia to appear on IMT. Sensing that perhaps ‘The King’ had found love abroad, the press back home was abuzz with speculation of a relationship. Arriving only weeks after Graham’s return, the charming Italian woman enjoyed a one-month holiday in Melbourne at GTV 9's expense. Graham’s frantic schedule allowed for little time spent together. Aside from appearing as a 'barrel girl' in several IMT episodes, Alliotti was given little to do no doubt returning home somewhat perplexed by the whole experience.
Graham's filmed scenes in London include a ride in a chaffeur-driven Rolls Royce previously provided to Princess Margaret, filmed by Beams alongside Kennedy. Naturally, the ride ends in a visit to leading men's fashion store Cecil Gee on Shaftesbury Avenue in London's west end. Here Kennedy produces the Glo-Weave range to the store proprietor, in another apparent advertisement for IMT audiences back home.
This was Graham's second overseas jaunt during his IMT days, the first being an eight-week trip by boat to the USA in July 1958. Far from the publicity machine in Australia that sought to depict a lonely and harassed Kennedy, Beams' well framed photography, particularly in the scenes filmed near The Colosseum, depicts a solitary Kennedy looking relaxed and perfectly happy to be exploring Europe in his own company.
The original surviving film from which these sequences were sourced runs for approximately 20 minutes.
Notes by Simon Smith