Channel Nine newsreader and Bandstand host Brian Henderson, a household name who read the Sydney bulletin from 1964 until 2002, has died aged 89.
Hendo, as he was known, was a fixture in Sydney lounge rooms at a time when the 6pm news was appointment viewing and he played a big role in Nine’s ratings success.
Hendo’s wife of 54 years, Mardi, said he died early on Thursday morning after multiple cancer diagnoses.
Nine’s Sydney newsreader Peter Overton said Henderson “was at peace when he passed away and he was surrounded, he had Mardi and beautiful daughters Jodie and Nicole”.
“I’ve spoken to them this morning and they are naturally as a family just gathered and sitting and reflecting on this man who had, may I say, a wicked sense of humour and was so engaged in the news right up to his passing,” Overton said.
Henderson had a national profile from a long stint hosting the black and white era music show Bandstand from 1958 until 1972.
A man who shunned publicity, Henderson was one of the last newsreaders who were announcers and did not have a background in reporting. When he retired in 2002 he sparked a period of instability at Nine news as they battled to replace his familiar voice of authority.
Then owner Kerry Packer said the newsreader had been a constant presence in a changing world.
“I know we all hoped that Hendo would go on forever,” Packer said. “After all, he’s only been with us for 46 years, so why couldn’t he score his half century?”
Henderson signed off every broadcast with either “and that’s the way it is” or “the way it is” and it was hard to escape the network jingle “Brian told me”.
Nine news director Darren Wick said he was “the epitome of credibility, reliability and clarity”.
The New Zealand-born Henderson won two Gold Logies, the first in 1968 as the host of Bandstand and another in 2013 when he was inducted into the Logies hall of fame.
He was also made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for his contributions to TV news, entertainment and journalism.
The chairman of Nine, Peter Costello, said Henderson was the “trusted face of television news for generations of Australians”.
“Hendo was not just a much-loved newsman, he also brought modern pop music to generations of Australian teenagers through his hosting role on Bandstand,” he said.
Henderson once joked that he had endured more than his fair share of cancer diagnoses.
“I’ve survived battles with bowel, prostate and skin cancer, this time around it’s throat cancer,” he said in 2014. “Fortunately, the prognosis looks good, thanks to early detection. So I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.”
Last year he said he wasn’t afraid of dying but was concerned about leaving Mardi “who may be a bit lonely when I’m gone”.
“I’m not afraid of death – in fact, I welcome it,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “I’ve had a wonderful life. How blessed can you be?”