Paying Tribute to The King of Television

BY MEL BONDFIELD

This month marks 60 years since a young Graham Cyril Kennedy burst into our living rooms on GTV 9’s late-night variety program, In Melbourne Tonight (IMT).

Graham Kennedy sitting on the throne as Henry VIII with Bert Newton standing beside him

Graham as Henry VIII on the throne, with Bert Newton.

To celebrate this anniversary, we’re bringing you a new online exhibition plus a series of curated collections showcasing the extraordinary life and work of 'The King'.

We highlight a career that spanned almost 50 years and conquered every medium – radio, television, film, music and advertising.

The NFSA collection from Kennedy’s professional and personal life is as extensive as it is intriguing. It includes rarely seen TV footage, early radio recordings, clips from his film career, personal photographs, correspondence and much more.

In our online exhibition and curated collections, you will discover Kennedy’s first appearance on film in a cinema advertisement, a cheeky performance with Bert Newton during a sponsored segment for men’s shoes on IMT, and a complete segment of ‘The Wilsons’ – a recurring IMT comedy sketch.

Above: Excerpt from a 1968 'The Wilsons' sketch from IMT. Courtesy Nine Network.

Graham Kennedy wearing a crown on the last episode of In Melbourne Tonight in 1969.

Graham Kennedy is crowned on his last episode of IMT in 1969.

Sadly, much of Kennedy’s television career has been lost. IMT ran five nights a week for 13 years, however, no complete episodes are known to exist prior to 1960.

The earliest episode held by the NFSA is an incomplete copy of the 500th show which aired on 3 April 1959. And there is little remaining footage of Kennedy’s eight-week stint hosting Seven Network’s news program, 11AM, in 1984.   

The NFSA would love to hear from anyone who holds complete episodes of IMT or 11AM featuring Kennedy. Please contact us via email on enquiries [at] nfsa.gov.au

We hope you enjoy our online exhibition and curated collections dedicated to the undisputed King of Australian television.

Visit the online exhibition and curated collection.