It’s a sombre day for the Today show team as one of their own has suffered a devastating loss.
Ben Fordham, a frequent fill-in host on both Today and Today Extra, revealed on Monday morning that his father, talent agent John Fordham, had passed away aged 75.
The legendary celebrity manager - who represented the likes of Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Alan Jones, and NRL icons Andrew and Matty Johns - lost his battle with throat cancer at 7am on Sunday in the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst, Sydney, the Daily Mail reports.
Today host’s tribute
Ben, who also heads up 2GB radio’s drive program, took to Instagram to share a heartfelt tribute to his dad, who he called ‘the best’.
“My dad has passed away. It was the most peaceful goodbye. We were all there with him and feel blessed. What a bloke,” he wrote.
“When we were growing up, he spent every spare minute playing on the street with all of the neighbourhood kids. He built a business with my mum that set the standard for public relations and personality management. He was a wonderful donor to charity and established the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation,” he added.
“As a mate, he was the best. If any of his family or friends or clients were in trouble, he’d go to war. “If you grab the tail, you get the whole tiger” - that was Jack. We’re going to miss him but thankfully we took every chance to tell him how much we love him. That’s the trick. No regrets,” Ben wrote.
“Today, dad is being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his commitment to charity. RIP John Fordham (AM),” he concluded.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and police commissioner Mick Fuller were expected to award the honour posthumously in a private ceremony on Monday.
The ceremony was brought forward from its original 2020 date, but John sadly passed beforehand.
Ben’s Today family have rallied around him, offering messages of support and condolences on Instagram.
News presenter Tom Steinfort wrote, “Thinking of you and the family Fordo”.
In September, Ben filled in for Tom while he was on honeymoon in Europe.
Ousted Today co-host Deborah Knight wrote, “Love to you and your family Ben. X”
Personalities from rival networks paid tribute, too, including Channel Seven news presenter Sally Bowrey.
“So sorry to hear that @Benfordham9 thinking of you and the family at this time xxx,” she wrote.
Sunrise’s Samantha Armytage said, “Thinking of all the Fordham’s. Xx,” while her colleague Kylie Gillies added, “What a man and what a legacy. I’m so sorry Ben x”.
The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson also shared a touching message, saying that John’s ‘greatest achievements’ were his children and grandchildren.
“He left his mark in so many ways Ben. So many achievements, so many passions...but it was you, Sarah and Nick, Maisie and Coco, Freddy, Pearl and Goldie that were his greatest achievements. Rest easy John. All my love Ben.xx” she wrote.
Ben ‘stepping back’
Ben’s father’s sad passing comes just days after he announced to his 2GB listeners he would be stepping back from his drive-time show for the remainder of the year in order to spend time with his ailing dad.
According to reports, John was working at The Fordham Company the day before he passed, dictating messages and negotiating contracts, but made time to shoot the breeze with his client Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns and exchange racing tips with Alan Jones.
On October 20, John accompanied his son to 2019 Australian Commercial Radio Awards, where Ben picked up an award for Best Talk Presenter.
He credited his win to his ‘old man,’ calling him his ‘lucky charm.’
John is survived by his wife Veronica, three children Sarah, Ben and Nick and his brother Bob.
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