GRAHAM KENNEDY COLLECTION
You owe your audience your best shot.
Navigating the exhibition
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We hope you enjoy this exhibition!
Graham was the greatest star on Australian television.
He bound generations of Australians together for 40 years.
Graham Kennedy's unparalleled career in entertainment spanned half a century. From humble beginnings in radio, Kennedy landed his first television gig when the medium was still in its infancy.
In Melbourne Tonight premiered on 6 May 1957 and Kennedy quickly showed that he was headed straight for TV stardom.
Pictured left: Graham Kennedy is crowned 'The King' by Eric Pearce on IMT in 1969
Previous slide: Graham in his Channel 9 caravan
In Melbourne Tonight, 1962
Late night hijinks live on air...
In Melbourne Tonight, 1965
Controlled Chaos on the Set
The Mike Walsh Show, 1970
ScotTowels Ad premiere
Blankety Blanks, 1977
Graham’s game show
Graham Kennedy's Coast to Coast, 1988-1989
Graham’s late night news show
It only took me a few days to realise that Graham was
what they call a 'natural'.
The Early Years
Graham Kennedy began work in 1950 as a panel operator for announcer Clifford Nicholls Whitta (Nicky, pictured left) at 3UZ in Melbourne. He joined him on air and it wasn't long before his popularity grew and Graham became a household name in Melbourne.
His first TV appearance – on a live radio and TV simulcast for the Red Cross fundraising appeal on 31 March 1957 – led to Graham being signed as host of the new late night TV show In Melbourne Tonight (IMT).
In 1956, Graham met another young radio announcer, Bert Newton (pictured on previous slide). Bert and Graham formed a partnership on television and radio that endured for decades.
In Melbourne Tonight, 1959
The 500th Episode
20 Years of Television, 1976
The Right Place at the Right Time
Graham and Bert on 3AK, 1962
A classic radio stunt
Sennitt's Ice Cream Cinema Ad, 1956
Graham's First Appearance on Film
I believe I've always been an actor.
From TV to Film
Australia's King of Television always wanted to be a film actor.
He had a love for sketch comedy, which was the perfect vehicle for his acting talent early in his TV career. But film was what he aspired to - he likened it to 'travelling first class'.
After cameo roles in films like They're A Weird Mob (1966) and The Box (1975), Graham’s breakthrough as a film actor came in Don's Party (1976, pictured left). He followed it with dramatic roles in The Odd Angry Shot (1979, see previous slide), The Club (1980) and Travelling North (1987).
Interview with Ivan Hutchinson, 1979
Graham's Acting Career
The Wilsons, 1968
Acting in Early TV Sketch Comedy
On The Big Screen
Graham's feature film career
On the Small Screen
Graham's Television Acting Roles
A lot has happened in the last three years.
The cows are not as sacred.
Graham never shied away from controversy and was not afraid to criticise authorities, studio executives and censors.
His imitation of a crow call on live TV landed him in hot water with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, because it sounded too much like a certain expletive that was still taboo in 1975. The stunt led to Graham having to pre-record his shows instead of performing them live.
Left: Graham is given a drawing of himself as a crow by an audience member on The Graham Kennedy Show
The Don Lane Show, 1983
The Crow Call
The Mike Walsh Show, 1970
The Politics of Winning a Logie
The Graham Kennedy Show, 1973
The Statue of David: Uncensored
A lot of people say he was a recluse. He was private and he was shy but that doesn't make someone a recluse.
The 'Real' Graham
Close friends say the TV legend loved by audiences was a far cry from the private and somewhat shy person they knew.
In the book Graham Kennedy: Treasures, close friend Tony Sattler says of Graham, ‘The naughty boy persona was an elaborate facade. Graham in his life was conservative, fastidious, ultra polite to women. In fact he hardly ever did tell dirty jokes.’
Previous slide: Graham at his home in Frankston, Victoria
This slide: Graham with Bert Newton
People would drive him mad
Graham didn't like going out
Photographs and Memories
In 1973 the Sunday Observer printed a story announcing that Kennedy was set to wed Australian-born singer Lana Cantrell.
The news sparked a media frenzy and Cantrell appeared on The Graham Kennedy Show the following week to perform and talk about the engagement.
Not surprisingly, it was later revealed that their 'engagement' was a stunt, orchestrated by Kennedy to see how far he could manipulate the press and, some say, to shut down rumours surrounding his sexuality.
Graham's Personal Life
A Closed Book to Work Colleagues
Our friend Graham loved a lot of things.
I just wish that he'd loved himself as much as we loved him.
Farewell to The King
Celebrating a Legend
Did You Know...
For more on Graham Kennedy, explore our curated collections.
You'll find rarely seen footage, artefacts, documents, audio excerpts and photographs from his amazing career.
With special thanks to Nine Network; Seven Network; Network Ten and Mike McColl Jones. Thanks also to Brian Abel; Phillip Adams; Gabrielle Beams; Richard Berriman; Graeme Blundell; Philip Brady; Noeline Brown; Henry Crawford; Roy A Driver for the Herschell/Driver Collection; FremantleMedia Australia; Henry Gay; Herald & Weekly Times Pty Ltd; Chris Keating; Kimberly-Clark Australia; Mark Knight; Judy Leech; Damien Lovelock; Macquarie Media Limited; Sue Milliken; Mission Australia; Bob Phillips; RSN – Racing & Sport; Gary Reilly; Jill Robb; Tony Sattler; Pete Smith; Southern Cross Austereo; Mike Walsh AM, OBE and Hayden Productions and Brian & Joy Westmore.
- Exhibition producer: Mel Bondfield, Stephen Groenewegen
- Curatorial: Chris Arneil, Bronwyn Barnett, Jennifer Coombes, Maryanne Doyle, Simon Smith, Helen Tully
- Film Compilation: Richard Carter
- Video: Richard Carter, Terry Stuetz
- Audio: Viktor Fumic, Ross Garrett
- Oral History: Bronwyn Murphy
- Conservation: Shingo Ishikawa
- Document and artefact photography: Tony Rowley, Darren Weinert