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Inside Bert Newton’s troubled past as the TV legend, 82, has his leg amputated

Television legend Bert Newton was forced to have his leg amputated in Melbourne last week, after his toe became infected before Christmas.

The potentially deadly infection was just the latest in a string of health problems for the 82-year-old entertainer, who has also faced several personal difficulties over the years.

From gambling issues and a mental breakdown to his son’s troubled past, here are some of the most challenging times the Australian icon has faced in the past.

Health issues

The history of an Aussie legend: Bert Newton’s troubled past is uncovered after the TV legend, 82, was forced to have his leg amputated in Melbourne last week

Bert’s health first became a concern in 2012 when he underwent a quadruple bypass.

In the years following the surgery, he was hospitalised three times with pneumonia and was also diagnosed with anemia.

Anemia can make a person feel tired or weak because there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues.

The four-time Gold Logie winner told reporters outside hospital in 2017 that he was feeling positive after being treated for the infection, saying: ‘I’m feeling better now.

‘It took a while. I didn’t realise until I copped it the first time, that pneumonia is such a serious thing, but I’m feeling better now.’

However, in November, Bert’s wife of 47 years, Patti Newton, confirmed her husband was back in hospital again – but didn’t reveal why he was there.

‘Bert’s been in hospital [but] all good. He’s got a lot of living to do,’ Patti, 76, captioned a picture of the star in a hospital bed.

Health struggles: The 82-year-old, who has battled ill health for years, was told the surgery was a 'life or death decision', entertainment reporter Peter Ford said on Monday. Bert is pictured here with his wife of 47 years, Patti Newton

Health struggles: The 82-year-old, who has battled ill health for years, was told the surgery was a ‘life or death decision’, entertainment reporter Peter Ford said on Monday. Bert is pictured here with his wife of 47 years, Patti Newton

On Monday, it was confirmed he had in fact been fighting an infection in his toe, which was getting worse and spreading – leaving doctors no choice but to amputate.

He was told the surgery was a ‘life or death decision’, entertainment reporter Peter Ford said on 3AW Breakfast on Monday.

Doctors reportedly told Bert last week that amputating the leg would save his life, but keeping the leg would mean he’d have just ‘months to live’.

He consented to the surgery on Saturday, Mr Ford said.

‘[The infection] got worse… he was seeing doctors and specialists and they couldn’t seem to get it right; it kept on spreading,’ Mr Ford explained.

Declining health: Bert's health first became a concern in 2012 when he underwent a quadruple bypass. In the years following the surgery, he was hospitalised three times with pneumonia and was also diagnosed with anemia. Pictured in hospital with one of his grandchildren

Declining health: Bert’s health first became a concern in 2012 when he underwent a quadruple bypass. In the years following the surgery, he was hospitalised three times with pneumonia and was also diagnosed with anemia. Pictured in hospital with one of his grandchildren

‘Basically he was told last week, “You have a couple of months to live, or if you have your leg amputated, you’ll probably have a few years.” So he agreed to have the leg amputated on Saturday.’

However, the Newtons are said to be staying positive and don’t want the public to think of Bert’s amputation as a ‘sad’ story.

Mr Ford said: ‘They [the Newton family] said, “We had a choice. Other people don’t have a choice. Bert wants to keep on living, because he adores Patti, his children and his grandkids, and he wants to have as much time as he can with them.”‘

Gambling problems

Gambling issues: In 1993, the former Good Morning Australia host's gambling problem almost forced him and wife Patti into bankruptcy, a scandal that made front-page news at the time. Pictured: the Newtons on July 19, 2012, in Melbourne

Gambling issues: In 1993, the former Good Morning Australia host’s gambling problem almost forced him and wife Patti into bankruptcy, a scandal that made front-page news at the time. Pictured: the Newtons on July 19, 2012, in Melbourne

In 1993, the former Good Morning Australia host’s gambling problem almost forced him and wife Patti into bankruptcy, a scandal that made front-page news at the time.

The couple were revealed to be $1million in debt, with the cause of the issue said to be Bert’s betting.

In 2018, it was reported that Patti had threatened to kick her husband out of their Melbourne home if he didn’t stop gambling.

According to Woman’s Day, she allegedly gave her TV legend husband an ultimatum: ‘It’s their family or the TAB.’

‘She’s at the point where she’s ready to throw her hands up and tell him it’s their family or the TAB – and since she’s meant to be in control of their finances, she’s keeping the house,’ a friend of the couple told the magazine.

Rumours: In 2018, it was reported that Patti had threatened to kick her husband out of their Melbourne home if he didn't stop gambling. Pictured: Bert on the Gold Coast in July 2018

Rumours: In 2018, it was reported that Patti had threatened to kick her husband out of their Melbourne home if he didn’t stop gambling. Pictured: Bert on the Gold Coast in July 2018

‘Bert needs to knock this on the head quick smart or he’s going to find himself turfed out of their home,’ they added.

A year earlier, in March 2017, Woman’s Day claimed Patti was ‘livid’ after photos were published of her husband visiting a bookmakers.

A source said at the time: ‘Patti’s reaction will be: “Here we go again, how much did you lose this time?”‘

Several days after the magazine hit newsstands, journalist Peter Ford claimed on KIIS FM that Bert was still gambling regularly.

However, he insisted Patti was controlling his spending by giving him a budget.

‘He gambles a little bit,’ Mr Ford explained. ‘What happens is Patti gives him some play money every week – about 100 bucks – and he goes down [to the TAB] and what he chooses to do with that is his business.’

Troubled son Matthew

Scandal: Bert and Patti's troubled son, Matthew Newton, who suffers from bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, has made headlines many times over the years

Scandal: Bert and Patti’s troubled son, Matthew Newton, who suffers from bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, has made headlines many times over the years

Bert and Patti’s troubled son, Matthew Newton, who suffers from bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, has made headlines many times over the years.

The 44-year-old was forced to withdraw as director of the film Eve in October 2018 after a social media backlash over his alleged history of assault.

This includes domestic violence allegations from two former girlfriends, Australian actresses Brooke Satchwell, 40, and Rachael Taylor, 36.

Matthew was arrested in 2006 for allegedly physically assaulting Brooke, and later pleaded guilty to ‘common assault’ in court.

In July 2007, Newton had his conviction overturned based on medical grounds.

In 2010, Matthew’s then-girlfriend actress Rachael Taylor filed a protective order against him, alleging physical, verbal and emotional abuse, and he entered Sydney’s Northside West Clinic for treatment. 

Matthew was also arrested twice in Miami, Florida, in 2012 – the first for trespassing and resisting officers, while a second incident saw him charged with battery and resisting arrest after he attacked a hotel receptionist.

Troubled past: Matthew was forced to withdraw as director of the film Eve in October in 2018 after a social media backlash over his alleged history of assault. This included domestic violence allegations from two ex-girlfriends, Brooke Satchwell and Rachael Taylor (left)

Troubled past: Matthew was forced to withdraw as director of the film Eve in October in 2018 after a social media backlash over his alleged history of assault. This included domestic violence allegations from two ex-girlfriends, Brooke Satchwell and Rachael Taylor (left)

Following the charges, Matthew checked into the Betty Ford Center in California for 90 days of alcohol and drug treatment.

Both matters were later dismissed under the conditions that Matthew completed community service and wrote a letter of apology to the hotel clerk.

After garnering backlash over his troubled past, Matthew confirmed he was stepping down as the director of Eve.

He said in a statement: ‘Since the announcement of this film, the responses, which are powerful and important, have not fallen on deaf ears.

‘Over the past eight years I have been working extensively with healthcare professionals to help me overcome my addiction and mental health illness.

‘I have lived a quiet and sober life. All I can do now is try to be a living amends and hopefully contribute to the positive change occurring in our industry.’ 

Change: 'I have lived a quiet and sober life. All I can do now is try to be a living amends and hopefully contribute to the positive change occurring in our industry,' Matthew said. Pictured: Matthew and Bert Newton (left)

Change: ‘I have lived a quiet and sober life. All I can do now is try to be a living amends and hopefully contribute to the positive change occurring in our industry,’ Matthew said. Pictured: Matthew and Bert Newton (left)

Busted for drink driving

In 2004, Bert was stopped by police in Camberwell, Melbourne, where he recorded a blood alcohol level just over the legal limit.

The then-65-year-old was taken to the police station and recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.058 – with the legal blood alcohol concentration being 0.05.

Bert released a statement through Channel 10 at the time, saying the incident was a ‘lesson’. 

‘I certainly do not condone drink-driving,’ he said.

‘The lesson I have learned is that drinking means no driving, even if it is several hours before. It is a lesson I will not forget.’

Mental breakdown

Breakdown: In January 1964, then 25-year-old Bert was admitted to a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown, but he quickly returned to work. But after subsequent relapses he resigned from Channel Nine and sought treatment full time

Breakdown: In January 1964, then 25-year-old Bert was admitted to a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown, but he quickly returned to work. But after subsequent relapses he resigned from Channel Nine and sought treatment full time

In January 1964, then 25-year-old Bert was admitted to a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown, but he quickly returned to work.

But after subsequent relapses he resigned from Channel Nine and sought treatment full time.

According to a book Bert by Graeme Blundell, the TV legend was actually injected with a course of the psychedelic drug LSD as part of his treatment.

Mr Blundell wrote that Bert had ‘no idea that a drug of that nature was going to be given to him’.

‘It was like being thrown into the middle of the Indian Ocean with a life-jacket,’ Bert was quoted as saying in his biography. ‘You knew that for a moment, you could float, but you kept wondering how long you’d be safe.’

The book, titled Bert: The Story of Australia’s Favourite TV Star, claimed Bert had a ‘bad trip’ while being treated for his breakdown, which the presenter called ‘the most ghastly experience of my life.’

‘My vision was distorting, my mind was out of gear, everything was out of kilter for me,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘Things took on a grotesque form, the room was misshapen – I don’t know how long it lasted.’

When offered a different treatment to balance out the influence of the LSD, Bert said: ‘I tell you what, it was like coming back from hell.’

Looking back: When offered a different treatment to balance out the influence of the LSD, Bert said: 'I tell you what, it was like coming back from hell.' Pictured: Bert in 2006

Looking back: When offered a different treatment to balance out the influence of the LSD, Bert said: ‘I tell you what, it was like coming back from hell.’ Pictured: Bert in 2006

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