real life

Cameron Daddo on being a teen heart throb, marrying Australia's favourite model and dealing with addiction.

The name ‘Daddo’ is one that will have a certain demographic of Australians nodding their head in recognition.

One in particular may bring an even bigger pang of nostalgia, adorning the walls of many bedrooms during the 1980s.

Cameron Daddo.

The eldest of the five Daddo siblings (including twin brothers Andrew and Jamie, Lochie and sister Belinda), Cameron was the host of children’s television show Off The Dish in the ’80s, which led him to host his own cartoon show aptly called The Cameron Daddo Cartoon Show.

Listen: Cameron Daddo talks to Mia Freedman about going to therapy. Post continues after audio.

From 1987 to 1988, he hosted the dating show Perfect Match at just 21 years old, making him the youngest host of an Australian game show.

Then he moved to acting. After playing the lead in telemovie Bony, Daddo won the Silver Logie for the most popular actor in 1992 for Golden Fiddles and again the next year for Tracks of Glory.

Feels like yesterday… Or maybe a last year. 30years since #offthedish #daddohalloffame #evolution

A post shared by Cameron Daddo (@camerondaddo) on

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Around that time he met and married model and frequent Dolly cover girl Alison Brahe. They wed within 18 months of meeting and he and Alison moved to LA  a few months later to pursue Cameron’s acting career.

It went so well. At first.

He got a lead role playing a photographer in the Melrose Place spin off Model’s Inc. about a modelling agency. Small but important roles on shows like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Anne of Green Gables, CSI Miami and The Mentalist followed over the next 20 years but things were tough with a family at home to support.

“Through the nineties through TV I was one to three on call sheets [in order of importance of the characters] a lot of the time. Then through a series of crazy events, actors’ strikes, writers’ strikes and the GFC later on, things changed,” he told Mia Freedman on the latest episode of No Filter.

“We now had three kids and we’ve gone through all sorts of things. It got very tense for a while on several occasions and then something would open up and suddenly you forget there was a moment where we had $100 in the bank because now we’re doing ok.

“If you’re going to choose the entertainment business, you’ve got to do it because you love it and that’s all you want to do because otherwise it’s too hard.”

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Given Alison Brahe and Cameron Daddo were one of the most famous couples in Australia, it was certainly different moving to LA where they became small fish in a very big pond. But the 52 year old said that was exactly what he wanted.

“I didn’t have to leave Australia but you only get one chance at a first impression and my first impression with Australia was a 21 year-old game show host, skinny as a pole in shiny suits and spiky black hair,” he said on No Filter.

While it was that fame that got him in front of people when he decided to turn to acting, he kept making it to the final two for big roles including the lead in Strictly Ballroom which went to Paul Mercutio,and then missing out.

“The insecurity popped up, I couldn’t see the glass was half full, that I was actually getting to this point. I thought ‘I’ve got to do something different – what if I go to LA and start again and go to class where no-one knows who I am?’,” he said.

“I didn’t have the baggage of being Cameron Daddo.”

It also give Brahe a sense of freedom.

“She let out a huge sigh of relief when were were sitting having lunch one day and she looked so relaxed and she said ‘I can actually sit here and watch people. I could never do that in the last five years in Australia’,” he said.

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“And I remember because we’d be eating dinner and she’d have a group of girls standing nearby saying things like ‘she’s not even that good looking’. When she moved to LA she was no longer ‘Alison Brahe’ and could do what she wanted’.”

While the pair celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, their marriage has not been without its challenges. The pair temporarily split during their time in LA.

“I wasn’t resistant [to therapy] because I understood I needed assistance. I needed to understand what my behaviour was all about. I knew that innately, so I wasn’t only seeing Doreen [the couple’s mutual therapist] with Ally doing double sessions and single sessions, I was also seeing an accredited therapist, so I was doing one session with her and I was in AA as well,” he said.

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“I was 28 years old. I was in AA not because of a drinking issue, it was more to understand addiction and understand my addiction to [not alcohol] but a two-legged bottle. That’s what I called it. Whoever was looking at me, my confidence was so…I was so confident.”

While Daddo was the ultimate teenage heart throb for many, he didn’t see it that way.

“I didn’t feel that way. There wasn’t that much external validation, I didn’t see it. Ally would see it, she’d say to me ‘did you not pick that up?’ and I’d be like ‘Nah’,” he said.

“I was pretty oblivious to it. So when it did come my way, it was so seductive. If I was in a city alone and I’d had a few drinks and there was that coming at me, it was pretty hard to say no at that point.”

While he says he married young [Daddo was 26 years old], he’s learnt a lot along the way.

“Even during the most difficult times in our marriage, we both stayed and answered the questions. [Being married] is a choice everyday.”

While Daddo has now lived in America longer than he ever did in Australia, work in recent years including starring in The Sound of Music saw him spending more time here away from his family.

Now the whole family have moved back Down Under.

“I go away a lot on location. I was away last year for 12 months, it was too long. And that’s one of the reasons why we moved here because this was the second go at it, that I’d been away for 12 months,” he said.

You can listen to the full No Filter interview with Cameron Daddo below.

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