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The death of Graham Kennedy. Television passes on. The undisputed king of Australian Ten News with Natarsha Belling. Good morning. has come to an end. An extraordinary life Graham Kennedy passing away Television legend and Australian icon in a NSW nursing home. He was 71. onto our screens in 1957, Graham Kennedy first burst winning no fewer than 19 Logies. his final years as a recluse. Adored by millions, he sadly spent to Bert Newton, Shortly we'll speak exclusively partnership with Kennedy for decades. who enjoyed an enduring on-air of the formidable man But first, a glimpse to tears of laughter. best known for reducing the nation After several years of ailing health, finally claimed Graham Kennedy's life complications from pneumonia in the NSW Southern Highlands. at a nursing home since the 1990s, The area had been his home

virtually becoming a recluse. when he shied away from public life, His later life in stark contrast his comic genius attracted to the stardom on television and in movies. and silliness Kennedy's quick wit, irreverence for almost four decades, made them laugh 'In Melbourne Tonight'. beginning with My name is Purgeous. that's a laxative! Purgeous? That's not a name, was in its infancy Australian television when Kennedy began hosting 'IMT'. and he became a household name. It was a hit for his flawless comic timing, Hailed a genius by some with anything and usually did. it seemed he could get away ladies and gentlemen. Take Toddies' advice, After a 13-year run on 'IMT', Show' in the early '70s. he emerged with the 'Graham Kennedy It ended its run crow calling incident, after the now-legendary but Kennedy was back in the mid-'70s on Channel Ten, hosting 'Blankety Blanks' in stitches. and he again had audiences Oh, alright. Take them off! often raised eyebrows, Kennedy's jokes to tell another, but he always survived at his own expense. even getting a laugh badly dressed characters. I always play hopeless, on Bernard King's life, If they ever make a film I will be asked to play it. his talents also shone. On the big screen and several others movies Kennedy starring in 'Don's Party' which won him critical acclaim. Kennedy mixed news and comedy In the late '80s, 'Coast to Coast'. on the late-night program His last significant TV gig Funniest Home Videos'. was hosting 'Graham Kennedy's

too much But the stardom eventually became as 'Gra Gra'. for the man affectionately known Kennedy was 71. Nicole Strahan, Ten News. star Noelene Brown Actor and fellow 'Blankety Blanks' joins us this morning. closest friends Noeleen, you were one of Graham's just hours before his death. and you were actually with him fighting spirit right to the end? I understand he had that true Yes, he did.

he had pneumonia and complications He was ill for quite a long time -

was very difficult for him. and breathing He must have had a wonderful heart and going and going. because it just kept going this morning - I was sure that I would see him

or five hours yesterday afternoon - I'd been with him for four thank God, in the early morning, but he passed away quite peacefully, 4:30, I think it was that he died. with him over recent years You've spent some wonderful times he became quite a recluse. when I suppose some say some of your fondest memories? Can you tell us he wasn't a recluse, really. Yeah, I'd also like to say He was a private person - rather difficult to handle. he always found fame and celebrity who likes his own company, He was a modest person but a person and he had a very happy life. I suppose for many of us Just on that point, talent on Australian television, we see him as such an extraordinary behind the scenes, but he was also quite a wonderful man when the lights went out, I guess. he was a really private person. When the lights went out, just dinner with a friend or two He didn't like to go to a party - and talk about shows, read books, or back to his house eat good food, have nice wine. talk about books they've read, too many cigarettes for Graham. Unfortunately, which contributed to his ill health. He smoked heavily over the years, the times when Graham was not ill. So those were the happy times - He was a lovely person to know. for Australian television And I guess it's a very sad day true Australian, a great Australian. but we should also be celebrating a I think so. to television was extraordinary. I think the contribution right at the beginning It started, really, and he made people watch television. when he was only a kid of 23

our first Australian star. He was probably

for so many years He was in everybody's living rooms of every Australian's life. that he became part And you'll obviously We'll greatly miss him. As I think people who knew him well. to see old footage But it's really interesting never even heard of Graham Kennedy, and show it to young people who've the genius that we know. and even they can see this morning. Thank you so much for joining us Thank you. with the legend as Bert Newton, No-one worked as closely from Sydney. who joins us live and exclusively now really like? Bert, what was Graham Kennedy

He was such an extraordinary

performer. What made him so

brilliant? Natarsha, I think if we

knew that, there'd be more Graham

Kennedys, and I think that was the

reason he was so successful and

undoubtedly so successful. He and

Johnny Carson hold the mapbtdal of

being the two greatest television

performers I've seen and I think

their scores on the board show that.

It was totally Graham, he brought

something to television the likes

of which hadn't been seen. Others

tried to follow but, because they

didn't have that indefinable

brilliance, there was only Gray-Gray.

Bert, you can't made -- you can't

say what made him so brilliant, but

what made it so potential ? I'd not

thought about it before, but we've

been friends for 50 years. We met

firstly in 1955, before television

arrived. He worked at 3UZ in

Brisbane, I worked at 3XY, around

Brisbane, I worked at 3XY, around the corner. We shared some of the

shifts and quite often we'd get

together and have a beer at

midnight after our shifts finished.

We formed a friendship then that

eventually saw him go into

television at Channel Nine. A

couple of years later I went to

Nine under the understanding we'd

never be a nart Partnership. He

would continue to be the king of

night-time television. One night,

one of the announcers took ill or

suddenly drunk or something, and I

was called on to do a 30-second

commercial with Graham, which went

for 22 minutes. The program

director said, "Forget the mornings,

you've got a new job." It was a

wonderful time. I feel that he had

the key to my personality, and

professionalism, and I had the key

to his. I think in both cases, not

too many people have copies of that

key. Not many this -- this is a

very day for many people, no-one

more than me. What made him connect

so well with Australian audiences?

He made so many generations laugh.

I think the camera chooses its own.

Graham had this amazing ability

that the camera picked up on.

Particularly in the early colour

years and black-and-white years, if

you watched Graham Kennedy on

television, you believed he was

talking to you. It's something you

can't manufacture . He was also a

very nervous performer . I heard

Tony Sattler say that the older he

got, the more nervous he got. For

some reason, he used this to his

some reason, he used this to his advantage and - not a recluse, but

he liked to be alone and he was

quite a shy person, but that was

Graham long before television came

along. A great loss to Australian

television. Well, the biggest I can

think of in its history, in terms

of performers. Lots of wonderful

people have gone before him, but ,

you know, they talk about Elvis and

they talk about other people being

the king. For us here in Australia,

he was the king. I was very happy

for a long time to be his crown

prince. We'll have to leave it.

There thank you so much, Bert

Newton, joining us live and

exclusively there from Sydney. The rest of the day's news next. And Bert Newton will speak to Ten News exclusively in tonight's news hour, first at 5:00. Funny man Jay Leno takes the stand in the Michael Jackson trial - what he told the court when Ten's Morning News returns. And what this family is using

to keep track of their newborn identical quads. LOUNGE MUSIC (People argue) HORNS BEEP This program is captioned live. The Federal Government has agreed to try and improve conditions inside detention centres. It comes as some Liberal MPs attempt to force their party to soften the mandatory detention policies. A minister under more pressure than ever before. With her department lurching from crisis to crisis, Amanda Vanstone wants to show she's doing what she can. What we're looking at is how we can improve across the board.

There will be better psychiatric care at detention centres and a new unit dedicated to better identifying suspicious arrivals.

The department's chief agrees changes have to be made. The department has made mistakes. If these mistakes are the result of systems or processes or attitudes, these will be changed. It comes amid an unprecedented backbench revolt. Liberal MP Petro Georgiou is proposing his own legislation to overturn the mandatory detention policy. We need to acknowledge the bravery and the courageousness of these Coalition MPs in speaking out. But the PM has refused to allow MPs a conscience vote. A bill to outlaw mandatory detention horrifying some Liberal MPs. It would be an open invitation to boatloads of people to risk their lives trying to come to Australia to get through the loopholes being created. But Labor appears likely to support at least some of the changes. The significant parts of this proposal, as we've read them in the media, are in accord with Labor policy. But the legislation appears doomed anyway.

The Government is highly unlikely to allow the bill even to proceed to a vote once it's been introduced into parliament. The issue will be debated in the Liberal party room next week. Laurel Irving, Ten News. Now to other news - forensic experts are still examining a burnt-out vehicle similar to one seen near where Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe disappeared 18 months ago. Ten Reporter Jamie Rule has more. The burnt-out vehicle was pulled from a creek at Woombi, about 2km from where Daniel Morecombe was last seen 18 months ago. He was then taken to a police station, where it's since been scientifically analysed. Importantly, the call about the vehicle came after the record police weekend doorknock of some 900 homes and businesses in the Woombi area. Police, though, remain cautious about connecting the find of the vehicle to the Morecome case. Yeah, it certainly fits the profile of the car we're looking for but, as you could imagine, so do hundreds of thousands of vehicles. This is just another one we've recovered and are looking at and, unfortunately, at this stage,

I don't think it's the vehicle that we're looking for. Police returned to search the creek this morning with the help of State Emergency Service volunteers. At this stage, though, it appears the car may have been in the creek

before Daniel Morecombe was taken. Police expect to give a full media briefing later this afternoon. Michael Jackson will not testify at his paedophile trial. The confirmation coming as lawyers for the star called their last witnesses, including American talk show king Jay Leno. After months of cracking jokes at Michael Jackson's expense, American comedian Jay Leno was called to help defend him. Last night on his late night show he was questioning why they'd call him. I'm a defence witness, so apparently they've never seen this program. LAUGHTER Today, the prosecution was no doubt asking itself the same question. Leno was supposed to back up defence claims Jackson's accuser had a history of trying to shake down stars for money,

but on the stand the comedian said the boy never asked for a cent. He did, though, question the boy's motives for contacting him, saying it was odd for a child to be a fan of an ageing comic. After all, he said, "I'm not Batman." Jay Leno backfired on the defence and was actually a very good witness for the prosecution. He and fellow comedian Chris Tucker are the last defence witnesses. Jackson will not take the stand. Quite frankly, that's not surprising to me. Not calling Michael Jackson as a witness is the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind. The defence is expected to begin wrapping up tomorrow, Then later in the week the prosecution will begin its rebuttal case. Although the trial is in its closing stages, it will still be weeks before there is a verdict. I do think the prosecution still at this point has a good chance at getting a conviction on at least one of the molestation charges. The prosecutor left the court smiling. As for Jackson, he had no comment. In California, Leisa Goddard-Roles, Ten News. A rare birth for a mother in Texas - identical quadruplets. While that may not sound remarkable in this age of fertility treatments, the four girls were conceived without drugs or in-vitro fertilisation. There have apparently only been 44 sets of identical quads

in the world before. While doctors are amazed, Mum and Dad have more pressing issues - needing to use home-made ankle bracelets to keep track. I look at them and I can't tell the difference to save my life. Also facing changes, the couple's 15-month old son, who now has four sisters. We cross live to Brisbane ahead of tonight's State of Origin when Ten's Morning News returns. Also - Agassi's anguish - another first round exit at the French Open. This program is captioned live. In finance news - the Australian share market is slightly higher. Donohue D'Souza at Commonwealth Securities - and more evidence today about just how tough our farmers are doing it at the moment.

That's correct, Natarsha. The

Australian Wheat Board, today

reported its half-yearly results.

In addition to the lack of rain,

lower wheat prices and a stronger

Aussie dollar decrease the overall

value of Australian crops. While

conditions in WA remain excellent,

it's those eastern states that do

remain largely dry, and the

planting of crops as a result is

being delayed. While those rain

clouds might be lacking, the recent

weakness in the Aussie dollar

should provide at least some relief

for those Aussie farmers. Fingers

crossed. Thank you. Sport - and in AFL Richmond is set to take a punt on injured defender Joel Bowden

for Friday night's Telstra Dome blockbuster against Melbourne.

The club saying Bowden recovered better than expected from Monday's operation on his fractured cheekbone. On Monday he underwent surgery to repair a smashed cheekbone. He was missing from training yesterday.

But Terry Wallace is happy to give Joel Bowden up until game time on Friday night to prove that's he right to face footy warfare. He wasn't a sick boy this morning. Coming straight out of an operation, he was in very good spirits so we'll just monitor it as the week goes on. If he's any chance, we'll give him right to the death knock. From the point of view of what he's had done,

it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever whether he's in this week or he's in next week. It's really how he's feeling. Ruckman Greg Stafford no better than a 50-50 chance to return to face the Demons,

who themselves have their own share of injury concerns. Skipper David Neitz managed only a walk. Handled with cotton wool to ensure he's right to play in round 10's biggest clash. People thought "Oh, he's off - what's wrong?" It was just a matter of managing him and um, - yeah, he's pulled up with some general soreness, but I guess, he's not the only one. Um, I expect him to be OK. And after two months on the sidelines, forgotten Port Adelaide premiership midfielder Shaun Burgoyne is hoping to return to the game this weekend. You know, eight weeks now, so doing a lot of training. The team has been up and down a bit. You want to get out there and help them come along a bit but you can't when you're injured, and that makes it more frustrating. Tim Hodges, Ten News. Rugby league celebrates 25 years of State of Origin tonight when Queensland and NSW square off in game one of the series. Ten league reporter Peter O'Dempsey joins us live from Brisbane. Peter, there are injury concerns for Queensland's captain Darren Lockyer?

Well, Natarsha, I'm afraid that

might just be wishful thinking from

Blues-fans. Darren Lockyer did bump

his arm at training yesterday, but

that's not unusual. Rugby league is

a rough game. He has not got an

injured arm, he won't be wearing

an arm brace tonight. He is 100%

fit. Bad luck to those fans south

of the border. In the NRL, Manly's

shupblshupblshupbl wasn't able to

get off a spitting charge? He, he

wasn't. It was the first time it

came up in 12 years. He tried to

produce the judiciary his body

produces too much saliva and that's

why he needs to spit all the time.

He managed to have the charge

downgraded from five weeks to four.

Are you wearing a blue shirt today,

going for the Blues? No, the

Maroons will bring by eight. I'm

wearing blue, go the Blues. Thank

you, Peter. Chris Guccione and Samantha Stosur are the only Aussies left

in the French Open singles after five Australians were eliminated overnight. Andre Agassi also bowing out in the first round for the second year in a row. In his record-breaking 58th Grand Slam the veteran American was leading 2 sets to 1 before back pain took away any chance of victory. The nerve in my back started getting inflamed and sending pain all the way down my leg. Young Aussie Evie Dominikovic no match for Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, going down in straight sets. Next in Ten News, a look at the weather around the nation. When you fly with OptusNet Broadband, the value really adds up. Because we've got a range of plans with: Plus, when you also have your Home Phone

and an eligible mobile plan with Optus, you'll receive 4 months free Broadband access every single year. And for a limited time, you'll enjoy: It all adds up with Optus.

Now for a look at the national weather. That brings you up to date with all the news. Stay with Ten for updates throughout the day and the full details in Ten's news hour tonight, including our exclusive interview with Bert Newton about the extraordinary life of Graham Kennedy. I'm Natarsha Belling. Good afternoon. Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre. www.auscap.com.au