Patti's heartache over berts SHOCK­ING BREAK­DOWN

The ‘bro­ken’ Aussie icon may never ap­pear on TV again after the back­lash over his Lo­gies speech

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Celebrity News -

On the eve of his 80th birth­day, Aus­tralian TV leg­end Bert New­ton should have been celebrating his tri­umphant re­turn to the small screen. In­stead, the icon has been left won­der­ing what went so very wrong after his con­tro­ver­sial Lo­gies speech set so­cial me­dia alight.

“Bert and Patti were hor­ri­fied at the re­sponse,” a Lo­gies guest tells Woman’s Day. “He didn’t even come back into the au­di­to­rium to mix with the other stars after his ap­pear­ance.”

Bert was at The Star Gold Coast to present the Gra­ham Kennedy Award for most pop­u­lar new tal­ent at the 60th TV Week Lo­gie Awards. He re­ceived rap­tur­ous ap­plause when he ar­rived on stage, but when he used a gay slur to re­fer to him­self and then com­mented that his late friend Gra­ham, who kept his sex­u­al­ity a closely guarded se­cret, en­joyed “men­tor­ing” young tal­ent be­hind closed doors, the in­nu­endo drew au­di­ble gasps from the A-list crowd in the room – and the on­line claws came out.

SAD FALL FROM GRACE

“He will al­ways be a TV leg­end but that was just sad tonight,” com­mented TV and film critic An­drew Mer­cado on Twit­ter.

An­other up­set viewer slammed Bert, say­ing his “ho­mo­pho­bic state­ments were the turn-off”.

Bert’s wife Patti was sit­ting with her close friend Stu­dio 10 star Denise Drys­dale and her co-stars Sarah Har­ris, Joe Hilde­brand and Craig Ben­nett – and spent the fol­low­ing two hours field­ing calls from an in­creas­ingly dis­traught Bert, who was holed up in their ho­tel suite.

“Patti was left stunned and reel­ing that the na­tion turned so sav­agely on Bert,” says a New­ton fam­ily friend. “And he was to­tally shocked by the back­lash and venom di­rected at him. He wasn’t well be­fore he came on stage – and he al­most col­lapsed when so­cial me­dia erupted.”

‘Bert didn’t mean to give of­fence and he’s heart­bro­ken’

It was a sad fall from grace for Bert, who be­came a house­hold name after join­ing In Mel­bourne Tonight in the late 1950s. Over the next 60 years, Bert – dubbed Moon­face by his good friend and col­league Don Lane – be­came a TV fix­ture and fronted shows in­clud­ing New Faces, Good Morn­ing Aus­tralia and 20 To One. The only other blem­ish on his ca­reer came in 1979, when he in­ad­ver­tently used a racial in­sult by call­ing boxer Muham­mad Ali “boy” at that year’s Lo­gies. But he ul­ti­mately for­gave Bert and that in­ci­dent oc­curred long be­fore the ad­vent of so­cial me­dia.

“Bert didn’t mean to give of­fence and he’s heart­bro­ken that after be­ing con­sid­ered a liv­ing leg­end, this year’s mis­step has cost him ev­ery­thing,” the in­sider says. “He was bro­ken by the end of the night.”

Af­ter­wards, the shat­tered star of­fered an apol­ogy when con­fronted at the air­port while flee­ing the Gold Coast. “If I did of­fend any­one, I apol­o­gise,” he said. “I thought [the speech] went very well – un­til after the show when I looked at com­ments on so­cial me­dia.”

It’s a wor­ry­ing turn of events for Bert, who turns 80 on July 23. Al­ready in poor health and es­tranged from his trou­bled son Matthew, an­other source re­veals the star, who semi-re­tired from TV in 2014, has been suf­fer­ing from anaemia “for months”.

The con­di­tion is com­mon in older peo­ple and symp­toms in­clude dizzi­ness and ir­ri­tabil­ity. Be­cause the ca­pac­ity to carry oxy­gen in the blood is weak­ened, the heart is forced to work harder – which can have very se­ri­ous con­se­quences. Bert un­der­went a life-sav­ing quadru­ple heart by­pass in 2012 and has since bat­tled bouts of pneu­mo­nia. In re­cent months he has been barely able to get off the couch some days be­cause of his anaemia.

“It’s the rea­son he’s gone to hospi­tal nu­mer­ous times in the past year,” a fam­ily friend says.

BOWING OUT

The Lo­gies furore was the last thing Bert needed – and it’s left Patti, his de­voted wife of 43 years, dev­as­tated. “She’s said it will be his last ever TV ap­pear­ance,” the friend re­veals. “Patti was in­con­solable on the night, telling us how much she loves him. They were both shell-shocked.”

Bert’s Lo­gies speech was slammed on so­cial me­dia.

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