Graham Kennedy : biography
Newton has written:
The blood would drain from the face of Pelaco shirt-wearing executives in television, advertising and business until they realised that instead of televisual suicide, this skinny little wiseguy was commercial gold. And then they liked his brand of humour a lot.
A commercial I shared with Graham, Raoul Merton (‘of comfort you’re certain when you wear Raoul Merton’) changed the footwear buying habits of men.Newton, Bert (1977). Op Cit, p. 91
Gerald Stone recounts in his book Compulsive Viewing that a "cocky young salesman" visited the IMT set hoping for an extra plug for his employer’s product. The young salesman was Sam Chisholm, who later became a senior executive for variously the Packer and Murdoch media empires. A May 2005 interview with Chisholm records:
- Sam Chisholm: I was working for Johnson’s wax at the time, and I don’t think he believed my …
- Graham Davis: Sales pitch.
- Sam Chisholm: Assertions about this product. So I said, "I’ll go and polish your floors and prove it to you." Which I did.
- Graham Davis: Over at his home?
- Sam Chisholm: Absolutely.
- Graham Davis: You got down on your hands and knees at his home?
- Sam Chisholm: Yep. I started off as his housekeeper and ended up being his boss.
Kennedy requested a "reject" dog from the Jack Davey Memorial Guide Dog Centre and was given a Labrador Retriever which he named "Rover".
Rover was sometimes brought into the studio to assist with advertisements for Pal dog food. One night the dog showed no interest whatsoever in the product, which Kennedy then himself proceeded to eat with apparent relish, straight from the can – or so it seemed.
Rover also achieved television immortality by relieving himself – live to air – upon one of the huge cameras. The studio audience collapsed in hysterics, but the duration and urgency of Rover’s impressively hydraulic performance might have led some cynics to question just how impromptu the event really was.
Biographer Blundell quotes Ernie Carroll:
Pal dog food, with Rover […] was time consuming […] once we fed him all afternoon so that when he came out to do the commercial he didn’t want to touch the Pal dog food. He was already full of it. […] on another occasion they had him drink before the show, big drinks. So when he came out, he peed all over the camera and all around the set […] Even those seemingly innocent dog manoeuvres were carefully planned.
Kennedy was exasperated for decades by questions about "whatever happened to Rover". As late as 1989, on Graham Kennedy’s News Hour (see below), he answered a viewer’s question couched in exactly those words with the withering reply "… he was a dog. What do you think happened?"
In early June 2005, on the 3AW programme Nightline with Philip Brady and Bruce Mansfield, Patti (McGrath) Newton stated that her father had often looked after Rover when he appeared at GTV-9. It seems that Kennedy had become increasingly irritated with retrieving Rover from the pound and so, when Patti’s father’s dog died, Rover went on to a long and happy life at the McGrath (senior) household.
The Graham Kennedy Show
After a special on 2 March 1972, Kennedy returned to regular television with The Graham Kennedy Show on 19 September 1972. This series lasted until late 1973. In 1974, when Kennedy claimed he wanted a rest, Nine allegedly paid him not to sign with another network. It was Frank Packer who paid Kennedy $50,000 to do nothing, as he was fearful he would work for someone else. Kennedy said in 1978:
- It wasn’t a retainer. It was $50,000 not to work. Sir Frank didn’t know it but I had no intention of working.TV Week magazine, 11 March 1978 – "Graham Hasn’t Conquered Those Jitters" by Ben Mitchell pp58-59