Australian TV legend Reg Grundy dies aged 92

By Holly Byrnes

Reg Grundy has died at the age of 92. Photo/Getty
Reg Grundy has died at the age of 92. Photo/Getty

In the end, Reg Grundy's timing was as impeccable in death as it was in his extraordinary life - giving a new generation of stars at last night's Logie awards their moment to shine before news of his passing cast a shadow over post-party celebrations today.

The self-made Australian media mogul, whose legacy of TV credits included global hits Neighbours, Prisoner and Wheel Of Fortune, as well as New Zealand soap Shortland Street, was confirmed dead at the age of 92 in Bermuda, where he had lived with actress wife Joy Chambers.

Awarded an OBE for his contribution to TV and media in 1983, Grundy became synonymous for producing local Australian drama and game shows, the formats for which he first tested on Sydney radio station 2CH.

Broadcaster Alan Jones confirmed Grundy's death on his 2GB program, telling listeners he had "passed away in the arms of his beloved wife Joy on their Bermuda estate."

Such was the impact his programs had on shaping the portrait of Australian society and culture, his name also became part of the colloquial lexicon, with Reg Grundys becoming slang for underwear.

In 1995, he sold the Grundy Organisation to what is now, FremantleMedia Australia.

Grundy - widely known as RG to his friends - is mourned by his wife Joy Chambers. The couple were married in 1972.

Born on August 4, 1923, in NSW, Reginald Roy Grundy was the only child of working-class parents Roy Grundy and Lillian Lees, who met in a chocolate factory on the cusp of the Depression.

He left school at 15, served in the army during World War II and worked as a ladies sportswear buyer for department store David Jones.

He started working in radio as a sports commentator, specialising in boxing, for 2SM Sydney. He also did voice-over work for cinema advertiser Chas E Blanks.

While working at 2CH Sydney in 1957 Grundy developed and hosted the radio show Wheel Of Fortune, which debuted on the Nine Network in 1959.

His career was an intrinsic part of the golden years of Australian TV. His name was attached to many game shows throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including Celebrity Squares, Blanketty Blanks, Beat the Odds and Great Temptation.

The company later branched out into dramas, producing an astonishing line-up of shows which were embraced by the Australian viewing public. In addition to the 'big hits' such as Neighbours (now in its 31st year), Grundy helped develop Chopper Squad, Glenview High, Sons and Daughters and the New Zealand TV hit, Shortland Street.

He also produced the fondly-remembered ABBA vehicle ABBA: The Movie, in 1978.

Although he was phenomenally successful as a producer, Grundy did not always have the Midas Touch, as a string of failed soap operas for the Nine Network in the mid 1980s (including Taurus Rising and Possession) testified.

But other hits were to come in the early 21st century - including a new range of reality TV contests such as Australian Idol (2003).

Grundy sold his company, the Reg Grundy Organisation, to Pearson Television in the mid 1990s.

His personal wealth was estimated at $805 million as far back as 2007.

He and Joy spent many years sailing between Bermuda, Los Angeles and London aboard his 25-staff super yacht, Boadicea, before settling in Bermuda.

An auction of his art collection back in 2013 was billed as the most valuable art auction ever staged in Australia, with over 90 works valued at around $20 million.

He was made a companion of the Order of Australia in 2008.

- news.com.au

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