CELEBRITY

Gretel Killeen: How Well Do You Know Her?

The former Big Brother host, who keeps her private life on the downlow, has many more careers up her sleeve

She is never backwards about coming forward with an opinion but Gretel Killeen, who came to fame as the outspoken, interestingly dressed—and tressed—host of Big Brother Australia, is also a prolific author, with over 20 books to her name, has many comedy projects on the go, campaigns for causes she believes in—and manages to keep her private life just that, private.

What is Gretel Killeen famous for?

Gretel has done many things in her life, including performing comedy shows, writing books, working as a voiceover artist and filming a doco about AIDS orphans in Zambia. But the Sydneysider is best-known for hosting eight seasons of Big Brother.

She told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2002, “I love doing Big Brother because there’s that element of surprise. I have no idea what anyone is going to say because nobody knows how they’re going to deal with being in a house under constant surveillance.

“I’ve never had a nine-to-five job: I only started law because my boyfriend was doing it and in that post-feminist era, girls with a modicum of intelligence did medicine or law.

“I look back at what I’ve done over the past years and think, ‘That’s cool. There’s a lot of colour and movement.’ I don’t worry about money, although when you’re a single parent, money is always a factor … that’s part of the reason you overwork. I worry about whether I’m sad or lonely or stimulated in a job.

“When they asked me to audition, I told the head honchos it would be a waste of my time, but I feel intellectually stimulated doing the show. It’s constantly challenging because you have to think on your feet.”

Gretel Killeen Reggie Bird 2003
Gretel Killeen with Reggie Bird at the 2003 final of Big Brother (Credit: Getty Images)

What happened to Gretel Killeen & where is she now?

Gretel is a regular opinion-for-hire for TV programs like The Project. She recently appeared on SBS show Go Back to Where You Came From Live, along with fellow funny person Meshel Laurie and politician Jacqui Lambie. She signed up because she “believes Australia’s treatment of refugees is barbaric.” She is a regular columnist for newspapers and writes articles for The Guardian, The Big Smoke and whimn.

Despite the rumour, one thing she is not is the sound of announcements for Sydney trains. “The City Rail voice isn’t me,” Gretel tweeted.

Gretel Killeen on Go Back to Where You Came From Live
Gretel Killeen on Go Back to Where You Came From Live (Credit: SBS)

How old is Gretel Killeen?

IMDB lists Gretel Killeen’s date of birth as Feb. 3, 1963, giving her an age of 55. She says she grew up in the north Sydney suburb of Turramurra with happily married parents and three sisters.

She was also the captain of prestigious ladies college Ravenswood, a member of the Australian debating team and a law student at UTS.

Is Gretel Killeen married?

Gretel’s is reported as being married to Mark Morgan from 1987-93. Her then husband owned the Harold Park Hotel in Sydney where Gretel was doing stand-up routines with the likes of Wendy Harmer and Jean Kittson.

It’s unlikely it ended well because she says a favourite saying of hers is you never really know someone until you divorce them.”

Does Gretel Killeen have kids?

Yes, Gretel has two adult children, Zeke (Ezekial), 30, and Eppie (Epiphany), 27, who she is proud to have raised as a single mum. They are also the stars of her “My Sister” series of children’s books, and helped her out with the illustrations. In June last year, while on The Project, she said, “I just want to say to any kids out there watching, while it is hard raising a lot of you, raising my children was the happiest years of my life. It was really bloody hard but I never regretted it.”

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Is Gretel Killeen a lesbian?

No, despite the speculation that Gretel is gay, she calls herself a “non-practising heterosexual.” But LGBTI causes are close to the campaigner for marriage equality’s heart.

“I went to my first Mardi Gras Parade in 1981. The whole of Mardi Gras has been a huge part of my life for many years,” the TV star, author and comedian told Star Observer

“I started looking for a home in Darlinghurst when I was 17 in the 1980s. Darlinghurst in those days was considered to be ‘very gay’.  

I moved in when I was 18 and strangely, as a conservative hetero from the North Shore, suddenly found myself amongst my ‘fellow travellers’. They’ve been my people ever since. I would not be the person I am today without the LGBTI community; my life is richer, much much much richer. I’m very, very grateful,” she told the Star Observer in March.

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Who has she dated in the past?

Not much is known about Gretel’s romantic life, but that might be that as a “non-practising heterosexual” she doesn’t have much of one, or she is keeping it private. She has fictionalised another relationship she had, that started out as lovers but then became non-sexual, in the book and iTunes film, Jimmy and Gret Don’t Do Sex.

“I wanted to celebrate uniqueness and also our definition of love and I think this particular person in my life, he is completely dysfunctional but I really like the fact that their love is so enduring without having any traditional labels attached to it – married, partner,” she said to the West Australian in 2011.

Jimmy and Get Don't Do Sex
Jimmy and Get Don’t Do Sex film (Credit: iTunes)

Did Gretel Killeen have a relationship with Saxon from Big Brother?

No. A contestant on Season 3 of the show, Saxon (né Daniel Small) earned more than fleeting fame with a persistent rumour that following his eviction from the house he began a relationship with host Gretel.

As he tells news.com, they became close working on the documentary about orphan children with HIV/AIDS in Africa, spending a lot of time at her place and at the Channel 10 studios and travelling together to that continent twice.

“It never got to the stage of a romantic relationship like the media outlets wished,” Saxon says. “She is still today one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met and is still probably the most frighteningly intelligent person I’ve ever met. That’s probably one of my fondest memories from being on the show, the time I got to spend with her.”

Saxon Small and Gretel Killeen in 2004
Saxon Small and Gretel Killeen in 2004 (Credit: Getty Images)

Has Gretel Killeen written any books?

Yes, loads! As well as several series of kids’ books (The Very Naughty Mother …, My Brother is …) Killeen has written fictionally enhanced memoirs The Night My Bum Dropped and Jimmy and Gret Don’t Do Sex and the fable The Zebra Who Lost its Spots.

“Even though the details are exaggerated, the emotions are true,” Gretel tells the Sydney Morning Herald about The Night My Bum Dropped. “It’s one of the most honest things I’ve ever written. It reveals something about myself. People are surprised by that, but they’re also greatly comforted by it.”

Gretel Killeen books
Just some of Gretel Killeen’s over 20 books (Credit: Gretel Killeen website)

Has Gretel Killeen ever posed nude or topless?

No, there are no naked pics that we can find! This was the most titillating photo we could dig up:

Gretel Killeen sexy
Gretel Killeen at the 2005 MTV Awards (Credit: Getty Images)

Is Gretel Killeen on Twitter?

Yes. Gretel’s handle is @gretelkilleen. She joined in April 2009 and has 7.5k followers. On her feed she advertises her projects as well as campaigning for her causes, often political. She also has Facebook and since 2013, has been on Instagram where she has roughly 5000 followers.

Gretel Killeen twitter
(Credit: Gretel Killeen Twitter)

What are Gretel Killeen’s most famous hairstyles and fashion statements?

The TV personality is known for her out-there sense of fashion and variety of haircuts. “I’m an Aquarian and we dress the way we want to,” she has said. 

Before she hosted the Logies in 2009, she kept her new short hair under her hat, so too speak, refusing to be photographed until the night. “She wants to use the Logies as the big reveal of her new look after being off the radar for so long,” a source told the Herald Sun. 

Here, a selection of memorable Gretel style moments:

Gretel Killeen 2001
2001: keeping it fur real (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2002
2002: in Mum mode (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2004
2004: blonde ambition (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2004
2004: rock star at the ARIAs (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2005
2005: red carpet ready (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2005
2005: curl girl (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2007
2007: well suited (Credit: Getty Images)
Gretel Killeen 2009
2009: short and sharp (Credit: Nine Network)
Gretel Killeen 2018
2018: ageing gracefully (Credit: Getty Images)

What TV Shows has Gretel Killeen appeared in?

As well as the recent Go Back to Where You Came From Live, and her Big Brother work, Gretel was a co-host with Matt Okine on the ABC series How Not to Behave and is a regular guest on many news shows such as The Project and Sunrise. She also hosted the Logies in 2009, though it was not a critical success.

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