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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Graham Kennedy, c. 1962 (printed 2000)

Peter English

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 40.5 cm x 50.7 cm)

Graham Kennedy AO (1934-2005), entertainer, began his career in Melbourne radio in 1949. In 1957 he began presenting In Melbourne Tonight on the new medium of television. With Bert Newton as his straight man, he hosted the show for 13 years, earning himself the nickname ‘The King’ of Australian TV. He returned to the small screen with The Graham Kennedy Show in 1972. Three years after its debut he was banned from live television after approximating the call of a crow with the sound ‘faaaark’ - although there is now some doubt about whether the segment was transmitted live, as is popularly believed. Over the period 1976-1980 he appeared in the ABC drama Power Without Glory and the films Don’s Party, The Odd Angry Shot and The Club; meanwhile, his comedy game show Blankety Blanks (1977-1978) was one of the most popular programs on early evening TV. (Now, even the tracklist for the 1977 album Graham Kennedy’s Blankety Blanks appears grotesquely vulgar.) His television career drew to its close in 1988-1990 with Graham Kennedy’s News Show and Graham Kennedy’s Funniest Home Videos. After these ventures he withdrew to a life of seclusion in NSW’s Southern Highlands, where he died aged 71 as a result of a range of debilitating conditions. Kennedy’s many professional awards included 6 Gold Logies and a Special Logie for Star of the Decade in 1967; he won the Hall of Fame Logie in 1998. He was awarded the AO posthumously in 2006. Graeme Blundell’s well-reviewed biography, King: The Life and Comedy of Graham Kennedy was released in 2003.

Tony Sattler, who with his wife, Noeline Brown, was amongst Kennedy’s few close friends, acquired this image in the course of preparation for his documentary Graham Kennedy: The King of Television. Its context is that in 1960 and 1961, Graham Kennedy, along with Bert Newton, appeared in the national Graham Kennedy's Channel 9 Show (a one-night-a-week national version of In Melbourne Tonight). In January 1962, the show was cancelled and replaced by the similar The Channel 9 Show, hosted by Newton.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Tony Sattler 2016

Accession number: 2016.41

Currently on display: Gallery Five (John Schaeffer Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Peter English (age 32 in 1962)

Graham Kennedy AO (age 28 in 1962)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.