Australian media mogul Reg Grundy, the television producer behind Australian soap opera “Neighbors,” has died aged 92.
Grundy’s shingle The Reg Grundy Organisation, founded in 1959, produced many of Oz’s most popular programs including “The Restless Years,” “The Young Doctors,” “Prisoner,” “Sons and Daughters” and the long-running “Neighbors,” which he developed with head of drama Reg Watson and still airs today.
Hundreds of Aussie thesps got their start on a TV show produced by his outfit, including Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, who both went on to become international stars off of the back of their roles in “Neighbors.”
Born on August 4, 1923 in Sydney, Australia, Grundy served in the Australian Army during World War II as a Sergeant stationed in Sydney. He started out his career in media as a boxing and sports commentator for radio station 2SM Sydney in 1947. Eventually, he devised and hosted a local version of “Wheel of Fortune” on the radio, before moving the show to television in 1959. He made hits out of bringing U.S. game shows such as this to Australian TV, producing local versions of “Blankety Blanks,” “Perfect Match” and “Sale of the Century.”
In 1979, his shingle created “Prisoner: Cell Block H” (known as “Prisoner” down under), which became one of Grundy’s biggest hits around the world. The soap was set in a fictional women’s prison and dealt with issues such as homosexuality, social injustice and prison reform, somewhat more adventurous issues for the television landscape at the time.
“Neighbors” has been on air since 1985. The fictional Ramsey Street launched the careers of not only Minogue and Donovan but also Guy Pearce, Liam Hemsworth and Natalie Imbruglia. Russell Crowe appeared for several episodes on the show as former prisoner Kenny Larkin.
Grundy’s feature film credits include “Abba: The Movie,” a 1977 docu about the Swedish pop band directed by Lasse Hallstrom.
Throughout his leadership, Grundy controlled and owned all of the shows he produced. In 1995, he sold his company for $320 million to Pearson Television, which is now known as FremantleMedia.
Grundy is survived by his wife Joy Chambers, an actress and author who appeared in several of his soaps as well as Kim Grundy, his daughter from his first marriage to Lola Powell. He died at his home in Bermuda, where he and Chambers lived. They were married for 45 years.