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Bernard King, the five million dollar a year man

Presenter: Eoin Cameron

Monday, 5 April  2004 

Bernard King: deep inside he was just out to shock people.

The biographer of one of our biggest stars fills us in on a big star who lived large and died broke.

If you thought 'Dicko' on Australian Idol was tough, you should know about the man who made him look like a marshmallow. As a judge on the talent shows 'New Faces' and 'Pot of Gold', Bernard King set the standard for coruscating wit.

But Bernard was so much more than a talent show judge. His biographer Stephanie Clifford-Smith explains that at his peak in 1982, the flamboyantly gay Bernard King earned five million dollars. He was starring on TV in "Pot of Gold"; he was a celebrity TV chef twenty years before Jamie Oliver; a stage star, and a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines.

Eoin asks Stephanie if Bernard was as 'full-on' in person as in public life. "No" was the response. Regarding Bernard's image of being very frank to the point of outrageous rudeness, Stephanie also sees this as merely part of his public persona. She thinks that deep inside he was just out to shock people.

Bernard King made and lost a number of fortunes. In his final days, he had little money and was living in a house on the Gold Coast, rent-free in exchange for gardening duties. "Was he bitter and twisted about that?" asked Eoin. "Yes" says Stephanie.

Our Mr Cameron never met Bernard King, but they did have some friends in common, which leads our Eoin to make another delicate enquiry: "I've heard he was a bit on the promiscuous side?"

"Fidelity wasn't top of his list..." confirms Bernard's biographer.

For all his infidelities though, the Bernard King story includes a star-crossed love story. Stephanie Clifford-Smith tells of a thirty year old Bernard King falling in love with the twenty three year old Alan Marshall. Marshall was not a man for spotlights, but loved Bernard for himself rather than his lavish lifestyle. They were devoted lovers for thirteen years until Marshall dropped dead of a heart attack.

(Eoin Cameron begins the interview by commenting that people either loved or hated Bernard King ... )

Stephanie Clifford-Smith , biographer

Audio in RealMedia format ) |  Requires RealPlayer

As heard on 720 Breakfast. Bernard's biography is titled "A Marvellous Party : the life of Bernard Stephanie Clifford-Smith. Published by Random House.


Last Updated: 5/04/2004 11:29:00 AM AWST

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