The Perth-born star, who began performing as a kid before finding fame in the ’90s as a singing sensation and popular TV host, reveals it was Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum who christened her famous stage name.
“I was born Joanne Guilfoyle and was forever being dubbed ‘Alfoil’ or ‘Tin Foil’ at school. When Molly signed me to a record contract in 1989, he suggested Jo Beth Taylor as an homage to Elizabeth Taylor, reasoning it sounded more showbizzy.”
From there, not only did Jo Beth’s music career take off, but at one point she was the busiest presenter on Australian TV, hosting three massive shows at the same time.
“There was Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, then Daryl Somers asked me to be his Hey Hey It’s Saturday co-host. I wound up presenting What’s Up Doc? as well.
“Hey Hey was a blast to work on, and Daryl was so considerate. I got to sing regularly, interview legends like Robin Williams and Danny DeVito, and to hang with the likes of Tom Jones, KD Lang and Tony Bennett.
“It was a pinch-yourself time in my life – such great memories. Which is why I was so distressed in 2016 when innocuous remarks I’d made about Daryl during my stint on I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! were misconstrued.
“To be a success in showbiz you need a healthy ego … and in talking to [former NRL player] Paul Harragon, I said Daryl was egocentric and liked to be number one. It wasn’t intended to be b---hy. I called Daryl and he was lovely about it. He knows how these things play out.”
In 1997 Jo Beth shocked fans by abruptly quitting television.
“There were warning signs I was headed for an emotional crash. I was burnt out, found myself crying for days on end and unable to leave the house. I was dealing with a stalker situation, plus there was that untrue but devastating rumour I’d done a sex tape.
“It felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. So I packed up and went to stay with a friend in San Diego.
“I loved the anonymity. I became a barista, went surfing every day, got my head together and loved life again,” reveals the plucky star.
In 2016 Jo Beth married her third husband, Matt Bennell. They met after Jo Beth moved to Noosa in 2006.
“Our boys knew one another through soccer. We’d been close friends for eight years before becoming romantically involved. I feel that strong friendship has made for an even stronger marriage.”
Two years ago Jo Beth moved back to Perth to be closer to her parents, who are both in their 80s.
“I feel I’ve come full circle. Matt is my rock and I’m in such a happy place. I love walking, yoga, eating healthily – mostly vegan – and feel fit and energised.”
As for a big 50th birthday bash?
“We talked about that, but with the constant COVID uncertainty, it’s hard to plan. Then we thought about ducking away to Broome or Darwin, but most places are booked out. So it might be a lovely dinner out and a cheeky glass of champagne,” she smiles.
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