By Andrew Dickson.
Despite being one of Australia’s best loved and most successful television personalities, life has not always been easy for Magda Szubanski.
As her new memoir Reckoning reveals, success hides a dark and, at times, challenging background with Szubanski revealing she sometimes struggled to understand who she was and where she came from.
And that started with her father, Zbigniew.
“When he was 19 he was in Warsaw during the war, fighting in the resistance and he was recruited to be in a top secret counter-intelligence execution squad that was assassinating Polish traitors who were giving secrets to the Nazis and also telling the Nazis where Jewish people were hiding,” she told the ABC’s 7.30.
“The job of his unit was to execute those Polish traitors.
“He effectively started killing when he was about 15 or 16.”
She said her father did not appear traumatised by his past and claimed to sleep well at night, but Szubanski still felt a sense of guilt.
"He chose to be a history-less man and not look back," she said.
"I had to make my own peace with what he'd done and I had to open that door on history and start to look into his deeds, and how they'd affected him and in turn how they'd affected me.
"As I was growing up, I struggled to understand where that guilt had come from, and I needed to really know that he was on the right side, and I needed to understand, in a complex way, what war does to people and what the legacy is, and how that translates through the generations — in order to understand myself."
It also made Szubanski reflect on her own courage, or lack of it.
"I grew up in the shadow of great courage and altruism of my grandparents, who hid Jewish people, and my father," she said.
"I had to then ... make my own relationship with courage, and also in some ways examine my cowardice as well.
"What would I have done in those circumstances and would I have had the courage that my family had?
"Would I have the moral fibre to do the right thing?"
Plethora of challenges growing up proved terrifying at times.
But that was just the beginning of her challenges growing up and wondering how she fitted in to suburban Melbourne in the late 60s and early 70s.
"We were a migrant family," she said.
"I had a weird name, Magda Szubanski, which I couldn't even pronounce until I was about 10.
"When I was 6 my father got cancer, there were a whole lot of things that were rocking the boat for me, and then I discovered the Brady Bunch.
"It was a guiding rope on the vertiginous slopes of my family life.
"TV with all of its blandness just seemed such a relief compared to the turbulent nature of what was going on in my family."