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APPENDIX P - 2009 The doctor takes a wife - again

21/12/2009 - Sydney Morning Herald

by Damien Murphy

He was the high-flyer who crashed, but Geoffrey Edelsten has never quite left the spotlight, writes Damien Murphy.

LUNCH is over at Bondi's Icebergs Dining Room and Bar and she's American and blonde, teetering on patent-leather heels and wearing a diaphanous dress, short and plunging. He wears black hair, black shoes, a white mattress-ticking cotton linen suit and the thousand-yard stare of hardened celebrity.

Icebergs is the stylish and expensive watering hole where being seen is part of the fare, but surely none of the clientele had seen anything like Geoffrey Edelsten starring in the latest installment of his life as a movie.

In eight days he will marry Oklahoma-born Brynne Mariah Gordon, 26. At 66, it maybe his last picture show.

Edelsten has swum in the fountain of youth for years. He wants to be forever young. His first wife, Leanne, was fresh out of Alice Springs and 19, two decades younger than he.

Brynne Gordon burst on to the Australian scene and nearly out of her dress in September at the Brownlow Medal count, when she walked down the blue carpet on Edelsten's arm. Journalists scurried to fill in her background, finding her MySpace entry oddly compelling: "You are only as strong as the tables you dance on, the drinks you mix and the friends you roll with."

With the media treating her words as a life philosophy, Edelsten says they were removed from the website but he has sent a DVD imitation to his second wedding at Melbourne's Crown Casino to hundreds of friends, including Jeanne Pratt, Malcolm Turnbull, Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson, that certainly enhances a table-dancing attitude to life.

Not only did Edelsten pay Seinfeld�s Jason Alexander and The Nanny's Fran Drescher to narrate their love story but the couple  re -enacted their meeting, proposal and courtship.

They were filmed staying at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel and shopping in Rodeo Drive � two locations, along with Alexander's presence, that prompted memories of the film, Pretty Woman, the heart-warming story of a rich, work-obsessed and lonely man falling for a younger woman.

The Iceberg lunchers watched agog as Edelsten's party left the restaurant. Some might have recognised the GP who introduced corporate medicine to Australia. Others might have remembered him as the face of Sydney Swans, or the high-flyer who went to jail and was barred from working as a doctor. All were clearly astounded by his bride-to-be.

�I hate all the attention,� Edelsten says before obligingly going down to the Bondi sand to be photographed with his fianc�e.

The Melbournian had come to Sydney to show her off and take the Herald to lunch to correct versions of his life that pop up in the media when his strangely peripatetic life attracts attention.

Edelsten wants it known that he was not sacked from the Sydney Swans. Nor did he hire the hitman Christopher Dale Flannery to deal with a man known then as Stephen William Evans. Edelsten claims Evans conducted a long campaign of harassment, including making death and kidnap threats and firing bullets at his home.

"When the legal thing blew up, I realised the potential damage my involvement could have on the Swans, and so I resigned of my own volition," he says.

"As to Flannery, I�m a doctor. Hurting somebody is anathema to me. Besides, at the time these events were alleged to have occurred, Flannery's later reputation as a hitman was unknown."

In 1990 Edelsten served a year's jail after being found guilty of soliciting Flannery to assault Evans and pervert the course of justice by obtaining an adjournment by certifying Flannery was unfit for trial on another matter.

Edelsten has a 1993 opinion from Peter Connolly, a former Queensland Supreme Court judge, saying there are grounds for a review of the convictions or a governor's pardon. Edelsten says the NSW Government is not interested.

Once he was the king of the world. The eldest of two sons of financially comfortable Melbourne ragtraders, Edelsten was born in Carlton but grew up in Toorak.

He had been a prefect at Mount Scopus Memorial College, captain of the school Australian rules and cricket teams and shared the 1963 third-year anatomy exhibition at the University of Melbourne with the present vicechancellor of Monash University, Richard Larkins.

After graduating, he worked as a GP in Sydney and the bush and after some time in the US in the 1970s returned brimming with ideas. He sponsored Cantons scantily clad cheerleaders and started a chain of medical clinics that offered not only attention-seeking white pianos and chandeliers but hulk-billing of patients. Edelsten earned the ire of the Australian Medical Association, which was upset that mass-produced medicine stopped patient choice and the doctor's handy gap fee.

Having made millions in Sydney, Edelsten was a natural fit to personify a pew image of the flagging Swans. He seemed to possess the money, the woman, the cars, the helicopter, the pizzazz. The Swans drew crowds of 40,000-plus, got into the finals, somebody won Brownlow, Swans au go-go.

Then it stopped. There were telephone threats, tricked-up pornographic photographs distributed, resignation, marriage breakdown, bankruptcy, a sensational trial and jail.

After being released from Long Bay, he was barred from practising medicine but free to run a medical corporation.

He started doing university courses and in four years took masters degrees in law, business administration, sports medicine, occupational medicine, science, family medicine and health-care management and a doctorate in health from New England, Wollongong, Edith Cowan and Charles Sturt.

"An achievement believed unequalled in Australia by one individual ...No, I don't think I'm obsessive," Edelsten says.

Interest in Edelsten waned after his fall from grace. Occasionally there were reports - unsuccessful attempts at re-registration on the NSW and Victoria medical boards, a $200 speeding fine.

Edelsten devotes much energy to challenging media coverage. He has gone to the Press Council, conducts long exchanges with editors, pays Google to alert him when his name appears.

A website,, appeared this week, naming 10 journalists - including the Herald's Andrew Hornery and Kate McClymont, the investigative reporter Paul Barry and A Current Affair's Adam Shand. Eight of them have one thing in common - they reported on Edelsten.

Edelsten brought a public relations man to the Icebergs lunch. The waitress had run through the Italian-style menu, lingering on the selection of seasonal fish, when the PR man said Australian journalism liked to tear down tall poppies, and noted that Michael Jackson had been attacked during life but lauded after death.

Gordon ordered steak. Edelsten's PR man went for the baby snapper, Edelsten too. When the fish arrived, Gordon said she did not like the eye staring at her.

Edelsten seems to have suffered much illness and injury. The late Fred Hollows removed his right eye in 1985. The next year a car crash broke his legs. He reportedly suffered a heart attack the day after he was struck off the medical roll in Victoria in 1992.

Earlier t that year he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Vinko Dolenc, a neurosurgeon, removed it in July 1995. Edelsten says he feels fine, apart from the fact that when he scratches his nose, he feels it on his left forehead.

Edelsten says he would not do everything again. He worries about the impact of his fame on his family. His father, who died two years ago, loathed the publicity. They did not speak for four years.

But it was not all sadness. "I was driving through east Los Angeles, a poor black area, in a Rolls-Royce, and there are some poor blacks kids, obviously out of work, and they see this car and they get up and they clap. You can see their thoughts: 'one day, maybe me�," Edelsten says.

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