Graham Kennedy : biography
On 14 June 2002 Kennedy was found unconscious at the foot of the stairs at his home, suffering a broken leg and skull with suspected brain damage.Blundell (2003), p. 429
His Canyonleigh property was sold, and he moved into a townhouse and later a nursing home.
Despite a career of high earnings, press reports said that his financial situation was, while not disastrous, insufficient to fund his ongoing care. Having made millions for the Packer family interests, he believed that "the Packers will always look after me".
According to Graeme Blundell’s biography, Tony Sattler:
[…]spent several days ringing Kerry Packer’s office […] Nursing was going to cost $3000 a week. ‘We could cope for several years but not longer. […] After three days Di Stone, Mr Packer’s personal assistant, called Sattler back: ‘Mr Packer has considered his plight. Unfortunately, he is unable to assist.
[…] Sattler received a phone call from […] an ‘unnamed businessman’ — […] ten minutes later there was a call from Graham’s bank to tell Sattler that $150,000 had been deposited in the ailing comedian’s account.Blundell (2003), pps. 422–423
On 27 May 2005, Noeline Brown confirmed that the benefactor was Sam Chisholm. ‘Brown said Mr Chisholm, who maintained a strong friendship with Kennedy from their Channel Nine years, offered to pay his expenses when he needed round-the-clock care. "For a long time, it looked as if all of Graham’s money . . . would disappear, because it’s very expensive to look after someone 24 hours a day", Brown said."So Sam Chisholm decided he would help Graham out by supporting him for a year."’
However, Kennedy’s will reportedly left a seven-figure sum to the Sydney City Mission.
Kennedy appeared in a number of films, ranging from brief cameos to leading roles. They include:
- They’re a Weird Mob (1966) (cameo as himself)
- The Box (1975) (supporting role as himself)
- Don’s Party (1976)
- The Odd Angry Shot (1979)
- The Club (1980)
- Silent Reach (1982) (telemovie)
- The Return of Captain Invincible (1982) (cameo)
- The Killing Fields (1983)
- Stanley (1983)
- Travelling North (1987)
He also had a cameo in On the Beach (1959) which was not used.
On 2 February 2004, The Daily Telegraph said: The king of Australian TV Graham Kennedy will celebrate his 70th birthday next weekend with a few close friends. The low-key affair is expected to be at the Kenilworth Nursing Home at Bowral where Kennedy has lived since taking a nasty tumble a few years ago. Physically he’s not in terrific shape. He can’t walk any more and gets around in a wheelchair as a result of the diabetes and the years of heavy smoking.
Actor Graeme Blundell, who had worked with Kennedy on the movie The Odd Angry Shot, published a biography of Kennedy, King: The Life and Comedy of Graham Kennedy (McMillan, 2003). A newspaper report stated that Kennedy "passed on his best wishes but declined to be involved ‘for no particular reason […] other than he believes he has a limited memory of many of the facts of his life’." The book, which was completed before Kennedy’s death, ends with "Graham read them [chapters of an early draft] … asked if he wished to read any more, ‘No’, Graham Kennedy said. ‘I know how it ends.’"
In 2001 Kennedy’s friend and Coast to Coast colleague, John Mangos, was reported as saying:
I can say to his beloved fans that they won’t see Graham again. He won’t appear publicly again; he is in his twilight. He has made a personal decision to disappear quietly into the sunset.
Kennedy’s first television appearance was in March 1957, representing 3UZ on a GTV-9 Red Cross telethon. Viewing his performance on the monitors, GTV-9’s general manager Colin Bednall and producer Norman Spencer "… turned to one another without exchanging a word and shook hands." "’When a full face of Kennedy alone came on the monitor, Spencer and I turned to one another without exchanging a word and shook hands. At the time, we were in desperate need of talent. At a glance, you could see that this boy on camera, with his cheap haircut and popping eyes, had gone to endless pains rehearsing his act and also had outstanding ability. When we talked to Kennedy he made no attempt at playing hard to get. He was busting to get into television.’"