Heartbreak High star Putu Winchester's tragic fall from fame

A new series of Heartbreak High has launched on Netflix almost 23 years after the original series finished, but what happened to some of the actors in the original series?

Class clown Dennis Klinsmann, who had a number of funny storylines while at the fictional Hartley High, was played by Putu Winchester from 1997 until the original run of the show finished in 1999.

He was just 18 when got the role but a lot has happened for the former actor since then.

Putu Winchester as Dennis on Heartbreak High
Putu Winchester as Dennis on Heartbreak High. Photo: Facebook/YouTube

He was born in Bali to Aussie actress Arna-Maria Winchester on New Year's Eve and named Putu, which in Balinese means first born.

His father became violent after a motorcycle accident in Bali, which resulted in his mother fleeing back to Australia, taking Putu with her.

He got his joy of acting from his mum, who also helped him get his first break.

He was visiting his mum in Sydney from Byron Bay when he decided to accompany her to an audition for Heartbreak High. She landed a one-episode role in the show while Putu ended up with a main character role.

Heartbreak High characters Dennis, played by Putu Winchester, and Drazic, played by Callan Mulvey
Putu's character on the show was always creating mischief with Drazic, played by Callan Mulvey. Photos: Facebook/YouTube

After the show finished in 1999, Putu landed a few more gigs with parts in Home and Away and Water Rats before deciding to move back up to Byron Bay to be "a big fish in a little pond".

Soon after, however, his life started to fall apart.

His mum passed away from a brain tumour in 2008 and at her wake, Putu's father turned up unexpectedly. In a July 2021 interview with the Herald Sun, Putu revealed that at the event, he and his father were involved in a physical altercation, which led to his father being placed in a coma from which he never recovered.

Putu went on to tell the Herald Sun that following a nine-month legal saga, he was cleared of any wrongdoing in his father's death.

Recent photos of actor Putu Winchester from Facebook
Putu Winchester's life has changed a lot since his time on Heartbreak High. Photos: Facebook

Around the time of his father's passing, Putu began abusing alcohol and cocaine.

"When you are young and impressionable and taken by the hand into the world of television and being a pseudo-celebrity, cocaine comes very much hand-in-hand with that," he revealed to the Herald Sun, adding, "I was drinking every day, doing coke every day. I drank until I simply couldn't anymore."

"My addiction started as a few knock-off drinks and having a line, which turned into having a big night, which turned into having a big weekend, which turned into doing it every night of my life," he went on to say.

By the time the Covid pandemic came along, Putu was splitting his time between Byron and Bali with his American girlfriend Skyler, and hanging out with his son Ryder, now 19.

Then all that came crashing down when Putu and a group of others were arrested in April 2021 and accused of dealing cocaine around the Byron Bay area.

Putu Winchester in photos with his American girlfriend Skyler Bartle from Facebook
Putu's girlfriend Skyler has stood by him and still has a picture of them together as her social media profile picture. Photos: Facebook

Police allegedly seized about 340g of cocaine and over $25,000 in cash in four raids.

Charged under his legal name of Putu Sugiarta Winchester-Stanton, the former TV star last appeared in court on September 14 and pleaded not guilty to charges including supplying a prohibited drug in a commercial quantity.

A charge of knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group was withdrawn.

Putu is currently on bail and will be arraigned on October 10.

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