Bert Newton’s wife Patti has expressed her heartbreak at the death of her husband, describing him as “the most wonderful man”.
Mrs Newton, 76, spoke through tears as she talked about her husband and Australian TV icon.
“It’s very, very devastating. All our hearts are breaking because he was just the most wonderful man,” she said outside the couple’s Hawthorn East home.
Bert had been battling complications related to a leg amputation from May. He died last night at age 83. Patti and Bert had been married for almost 47 years.
“He had such a fabulous attitude,” Mrs Newton said.
“And he gave us so much joy right up to the end.”
Patti also revealed the heartbreak of missing her husband’s final moments.
“I left at ten past seven, and I was just pulling around to come into my drive and I get the call to say he’d taken his last breath at 7.22pm,” she said.
“So, I missed him, but maybe he didn’t want me to be there for his last breath.”
A state funeral will be held to farewell the beloved television personality.
Former Nine CEO Eddie McGuire appeared on Weekend Today, saying Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews would ring Bert’s widow Patti to make the offer of a state funeral.
Mr McGuire said the farewell service will most likely be held at Bert’s “beloved” St Pat’s Cathedral in Melbourne in a loving testimony to his former employee.
Mr Andrews has since released a statement confirming a state funeral will be held.
“We will all have an opportunity to honour his memory, his talent and his achievements at a state funeral – details will be shared in the coming days,” the statement reads.
“Bert Newton was an icon, a larrikin and a born entertainer.”
“We have never known TV without Bert,” Mr Andrews said.
“Bert will live on in the memories of an entire generation.”
Mr McGuire told Weekend Today how Newton had touched him personally.
“To say I was Bert Newton’s boss is stretching it. I couldn’t carry Bert Newton’s bags,” Mr McGuire said.
“He was a hero to me. Bert was a legend to me. I sat alongside him on set. I watched him as a young boy. I was thrilled with everything about Bert Newton.
“When the opportunity came for me to rehire him as CEO, it was one of the greatest moments of my career.”
Mr McGuire confirmed during their time together at Nine, Bert had named one of his famous hairpieces after the CEO.
“I knew I had made it when Bert Newton one, knew my name, and two, named his toupee after me. That was Bert,” Mr McGuire said.
“Bert said he thought I was on everything at that stage, I might as well be on his head as well. That’s what he was about.”
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Mr McGuire said Bert had what he described as “generosity of spirit”, and was equally at home leading the comedic moments on a show or playing the straight man alongside some of Australia’s most famous comedians.
“He was showbiz royalty. It was when Bert got on stage with the international names, Sammy Davis Junior, Bob Hope. He could spar with Muhammed Ali. He could do everything,” Mr McGuire said.
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“You could see the sense of respect. America had Carson. The United Kingdom had Parkinson and we had Bert Newton and he could match it with every one of them.”