14 Aug

The Kiwi King of Gossip

Presenting David's award is one of Anand's last duties as Governor General

Presenting David's award is one of Anand's last duties as Governor General / Photo: Simon Woolf

There are three important rules behind’s David Hartnell’s success as a gossip king, which have helped earn him an honor from the Queen.

David, who was awarded his New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for service to entertainment, last week, is believed to be the first gossip columnist in the world to be honored by the Queen, And he has the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly—and those three rules—to thank for it.

The Weekly was the first magazine to offer David a permanent gossip column in New Zealand in 1976.

“Jean Wishart was the editor then, and the magazine has continued to support me. It’s nice to be back again,” says David, whose Hollywood Trivia appears on page 84.

“I remember when my first Best and Worst Dressed came out and she refused to publish the worst dressed because she didn’t want to upset anybody. She was what I call a class act.”

David adds that his gossip is always tongue in cheek, and he always sticks to his rules.

He never talks about stars who are pregnant until the baby is born, in case the pregnancy ends badly. “As soon as the baby is born, trumpets are blazing.” he says.

David prefers not to report on gossip surrounding a dying celebrity. “I think it should be known to the fans that the star is dying,but that’s enough.

“And a person must be instantly recognized,” adds David, “otherwise, they shouldn’t be there, “he says.

David celebrated his award with his partner Somboon

David celebrated his award with his partner Somboon / Photo: Gordon Rushton

David’s partner of 18 years, Somboon Khansuk, joined him in Wellington along with family and friends to see the governor general award David his medal.

David couldn’t help thinking of his late grandfather—who was more like a father to him—when he received his medal at Government House.

“He used to always say to me in jest, ‘What do you want a medal?’ So I thought, ‘There you are, Pop, I did get a medal!’”

He laughs off suggestions a knighthood could be next.

“If I can be awarded something from the Queen, anything is possible. But the MNZM is fine,” he smiles.

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
Vicky Tyler