The King is dead, and a large part of
Australian television history has gone with him. Graham Kennedy’s death
from pneumonia early this morning has taken one of the biggest talents
this country has seen from TV.

Kennedy, 71, was living the
Southern highlands of NSW. He was being looked after by friends
including writer, Tony Sattler and his wife, Noelene Brown, the
comedienne and actor.

Sattler told Angela Catterns on ABC radio
in Sydney this morning that Kennedy had a special ability to look
through the camera and reach people in their living rooms, wherever
they were watching. And he had the ability to deliver a line with
impeccable timing.

Graham Kennedy turned the “live” ad read on
TV into a rave. Advertisers queued to have their products sent up or
destroyed on camera by Kennedy. You just can’t imagine today’s
marketers and spin merchants being able to handle Kennedy’s brand of
corporate terrorism.

His “fark, fark” call of the crow earned
him suspension from Australian TV back in the 70s. On Monday night,
Andrew Denton, a worthy successor to Kennedy, dropped the ‘f’ word on
his Enough Rope without any protest.

On SkyNews this
morning, Sam Chisholm, who knew Kennedy when he was working at Nine in
Melbourne, said Kennedy would “go down in television history as the
most brilliant influence on television in country… it’s impossible to
put into words his influence on what we all do now.”

“He was a
consummate professional, he never, ever used bad language … Having
said that he had plenty of disputes with the broadcasting control
board, at one stage we had to put him on air on delay.Off the top of my
head I couldn’t think of anybody I respect more.”

The Age and SMH are reporting that Kennedy died at a nursing home in Bowral after suffering from several long illnesses, and publishing online tributes
from friends and colleagues of the late TV king including biographer
Graeme Blundell, Sam Chisholm, Harry M. Miller and Jack Thompson. The
SMH has also gathered together various comments made by Kennedy in the Herald and Sun Herald over the years.

In 2003 Graeme Blundell published his biography of teh reclusive Kennedy, King: The Life and Comedy of Graham Kennedy, prompting this review by Peter Wilmoth in The Age. A profile of Kennedy and a timeline of his life and career can also be found on The Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Read more here.