Thousands of fans surrounded the church hoping to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom.
Such was Bertie’s Melbourne obsession as television personalities Burt Newton and Patti McGrath tied the knot in Camberwell on November 9, 1974.
Police had to rein in the crowd as the wedding party car made its way to the staircase of St Dominic’s Church.
There were gasps and whistles as the bride appeared in a traditional white long-sleeved cloak.
In a symbol of their union, the lace on Burt’s shirt was matched with the lace on Patti’s dress.
Surprising engagement on Australia Day
Patty first met Burt on a radio talent show when he was 12 – just a few years before he became Australia’s youngest professional broadcaster at the age of 15.
“We didn’t really pay attention to each other when we first met as children,” Patty told The Australian Women’s Weekly a month before the wedding.
“But I remember all the little girls on the radio talent show fell in love with Burt.”
Burt has gone from strength to strength in his media career, cementing his fame on Australian television alongside Graham Kennedy on Melbourne’s Channel Nine Tonight (IMT) and later The Graham Kennedy Show.
Graeme Blundell, who wrote the 2014 unauthorized biography Burt, said the Melbourne media was obsessed with the unusual love life of the sexy young man, known as “Mr. Teth” for his beaming smile.
Burt was briefly engaged to fellow TV host Susan Gay Anderson in 1962, and had an on-off relationship with model Joey Fountain.
He eventually realizes that Patti is “the girl” after she leaves Australia to perform abroad.
Patti got her start in theater and gained fame as a host on the children’s TV show The Tarax Show, as well as appearing in sketches on IMT.
After separating for 18 months, Burt decides to travel to America secretly and book a ticket on the luxury ship, Queen Elizabeth II, where Patty was singing.
He sent her a note after her performance and they rushed to find each other.
“I came running to see him but I couldn’t find him, the ship was too big,” she told Women’s Weekly.
Burt applied on Australia Day 1974 and the couple went to New York to buy a ring.
‘It’s been a wonderful life together’
The couple were getting married abroad but decided to have a party in Australia so that their families could be there.
Any hopes of a small Catholic party went out the window as crowds of well-wishers descended on the church.
Fans of the newlyweds weren’t just hoping to sneak into a peak – Burt’s best man, Graham Kennedy, was a drawing card in his own right as one of television’s biggest names at the time.
The brief service was conducted by Burt’s childhood friend, Father Ray Dale, and the reception was held at the Southern Cross Hotel.
Burt and Patty gave birth to their first child, Matthew Joseph (named after their late parents) at Mercy Hospital in Melbourne on January 22, 1977.
Their daughter, Lauren Elise, was born in the same hospital on March 25, 1979.
Together, the pair endured Burt’s show business as well as his struggle with a gambling addiction, which nearly went bankrupt in 1993.
They also stood by Matthew during his struggle with addiction and the numerous allegations against him of assaulting his ex-girlfriends Brooke Satchwell and Rachel Taylor.
Burt and Patty’s union was a rare tale of enduring love in the entertainment world, which can be brutal when it comes to relationships.
But after more than 45 years of marriage, the couple was as in love as the day they said “I do.”
Patti’s Instagram feed is full of posts that reflect her long-standing devotion to the “love of my life.”
Celebrating their wedding anniversary in 2019, she wrote, “It’s been a wonderful life together, ups and downs and lots of laughter and happiness. Thank you for choosing me. I love you Mac.”
And just six days before his death was announced, she posted a picture of Newton with their grandchildren huddled around his hospital bed.
“This is happiness,” she wrote.