GORDON, BRUCE (1929– )
Bruce Gordon left Cleveland Boys High School in Sydney at the age of 14 to join the Gang Show, a troupe of Boy Scouts performing around Australia. His show, Bruce Gordon’s Magical Moments, was booked by Sydney’s Tivoli Circuit Theatre in 1952, and Gordon was subsequently employed to handle the theatre’s advertising and promotions, then stage, house and business management.
Gordon was appointed business manager for the theatre’s regional circuit chain, handling productions such as West Side Story. On his interstate trips, Gordon became aware of the threat posed to regional theatre by television. His friendship with Bruce Gyngell, TCN9’s manager, led to his next career move.
In 1962, TCN9’s chairman, Sir Frank Packer, suggested Gordon as sales manager for Desilu Productions (established by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball) in Sydney. In 1968, Desilu was acquired by Paramount and Gordon was appointed managing director of Paramount International in Sydney. In 1972, he moved to New York as vice-president of Paramount International television sales, relocating the office to Bermuda in 1985. Gordon retired from Paramount in 1997 and the following year was awarded one of the television industry’s highest accolades, the Nymphe d’Honneur at the Monte Carlo Television Festival.
While living in New York in 1979, Gordon decided to buy into regional television in Australia and acquired a controlling share of the Wollongong-based WIN4 from Rupert Murdoch. Gordon observed that this deal involved a ‘whole weekend argument’ before the price was agreed upon, with Murdoch receiving Gordon’s shares in Sydney’s 0–10 as part of the bargain.
By 2009, Gordon’s WIN regional television network reportedly reached 42 per cent of Australia’s 8.5 million homes. WIN’s interests included 27 television stations, radio broadcasting, pay television, film and television production, and control of the new youth-oriented digital channel GO! In 2005, Business Review Weekly (BRW) estimated Gordon’s personal wealth at $1.3 billion.
Gordon has continued to maintain a keen interest in the Wollongong-based WIN Corporation. By 2010, he was deputy chairman of the board alongside executive chairman Andrew Gordon (his son by a first marriage), his second wife, Judith, and their daughter, Genevieve. In 2013, Gordon’s 14 per cent stake in Network Ten became a key factor in the rival Nine Entertainment Co. bid to retain cricket broadcast rights.
REFs: ‘Australia’s WIN Television Celebrates its 30th anniversary’, Video Age International (October 2009); S. Washington, ‘Rich 200 Profile—Under the Radar’, BRW, 19–25 May 2005.
SUE TURNBULL and STEPHANIE HANSON