Henry Alfred ‘Harry’ Gordon CMG AM
9 November 1925 – 21 January 2015
Honoured as a Member of the Wall of Sporting Legends on 28 November 2015
Harry Gordon was a storyteller – one of the greatest.
Across a decorated journalistic career that spanned 73 years, Harry’s stories brought truth to readers from so many different platforms. They came from the front line of battle as a war correspondent in Korea; from the front row seat at every Olympic Games through Helsinki (1952) to London (2012); and from the seat of power as an influential newspaper editor.
In his later years Harry’s storytelling seat would be in his comfortable home at Main Beach on the Gold Coast. Those fortunate to be in his company would hear fascinating excerpts from an amazing life filled with incredible people, places and incidents - all the while Harry’s expressive face, twinkling eyes and warm welcoming smile keeping whoever was in front of him captivated and entertained.
Harry was born in Melbourne in 1925, the son of a dockworker. As a child he was taught to tap dance by his mother (Marjorie) and to box by his father (Harry Snr). He was a middleweight boxing champion at Melbourne High School.
Harry’s distinguished journalistic career began when he was 16 as a copy boy at the Sydney Daily Telegraph. In 1949 he began working at The Sun News-Pictorial as a general reporter and the following year was sent to cover the Korean War from the front line.
Harry’s determination for the truth to be told surfaced here, when he would fly to Japan to dictate copy for a particularly good story so as to evade a strict United States censorship regime.
Soon after, he began a long and passionate affair with the Olympic Games. It started when he was sent to report on the 1952 Games in Helsinki. Harry loved sport, but the Olympic Games sparked an even deeper emotion. He went on to cover every Olympics until his death in 2015.
He was appointed the official historian of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) in 1992. He wrote numerous books, many about the Olympics, including the landmark work Australia and the Olympic Games. His final work, From Athens with Pride, an update of the original, was published in 2014.
In 1999 he was awarded the AOC’s highest award, the Order of Merit and in 2001 he received the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) highest honour, the Olympic Order for his outstanding service to the Olympic Movement. In 1993 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
During his journalistic career, Harry was also one of Australia’s most influential media personalities. In 1968, he was appointed Editor of The Sun News-Pictorial. He used his newspaper to head a campaign titled 'Declare War on 1034' to reduce car-related fatalities (the number is a reference to the number of road deaths in Victoria in 1969). The campaign was successful and in 1970 the Victorian State Government introduced a mandatory seatbelt law requiring car users to wear seatbelts. This was the first such law in the world.
Harry Gordon passed away in January, 2015, aged 89. He is survived by his wife Joy and children Sally, Michael and John.