Australia’s “King of Television”, Graham Kennedy, is dead.
A working-class boy with a sharp wit and no hesitation in making himself the butt of his own (often tasteless but hilarious) jokes, Kennedy rose to become the most well-known person on Australian television in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The picture above is from the game show “Blankety Blanks” which he hosted. Just looking at it makes me remember “Cyril said…” (if you were there’ you’ll know).
Rumours about Kennedy’s sexuality have been doing the rounds forever and I suppose it will all be revealed today that, yes, he was queer. But he never acknowledged this in life, although he often gave pause to wonder, such as when he sang this song:
Being a chum is fun,
That is why I’m one;
Always smiling, always gay,
Chummy at work,
Chummy at play -
Laugh away your worries,
Don’t be sad or glum;
And everyone will know
That you’re a chum, chum, chum!
Kennedy was described by his biographer as “icon for aloneness, an icon for the nature of the solitary life”. In recent years he had become a virtual recluse, refusing to grant interviews and hiding from the public he’d once played up to. He died in a nursing home in Bowral early this morning.
The closet is a lonely place.