One of the most defining characters and influencers on Australian TV, film and culture over the past 50 years, John “Strop” Cornell, has died from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 80.
Cornell found national fame as Paul Hogan’s bumbling, surf cap-wearing sidekick “Strop” in Hogan’s eponymous comedy series in the mid-70s.
However, his reach went much deeper than that, including the famous Crocodile Dundee films, he was a confidant to none other than Kerry Packer and was also the brains behind the launch of World Series Cricket back in the late 70s.
Cornell had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the past two decades and, in a statement, his family said he succumbed to the illness surrounded by loved ones at his Byron Bay home.
The statement read: “A classic Australian character, John Cornell made the lives he touched much richer, not only through donations, but also through his generosity of spirit, humour, humility and honour. A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go.”
You can read the family’s statement in full at the end of this article.
Prior to his TV debut, Cornell had amassed a number of other professions including journalist, milkman and bookmaker.
While working for Nine’s A Current Affair in 1971 he met Paul Hogan and soon became the comedian’s manager.
Cornell is also said to have had a hand in arguably Australia’s greatest advertising jingle – C’mon Aussie C’mon! – created by legendary ad duo Allan Johnston and Alan Morris and used to promote the controversial cricket series.
Easily the biggest success for the Cornell/Hogan duo were the Crocodile Dundee films that Hogan starred in and Cornell produced. The first two instalments earning close to $100 million at the box office.
Cornell later married another star of The Paul Hogan Show, Delvene Delaney; the two have remained married for the past 46 years. Cornell is survived by his wife and three daughters – Liana, Allira and Melissa.
Statement from Cornell family:
John Cornell, one of Australia’s leading lights in journalism, television, sport and film, passed away peacefully this morning in Byron Bay, with his wife and eldest daughter by his side, and his youngest daughter on the phone from the UK.
Born in Kalgoorlie on the 2nd of March, 1941, John rose quickly through the ranks of journalism at the Daily News in Perth, becoming the youngest super-a grade journalist in Australia, and London editor at the age of 26. John then turned his talents to television, as the original producer of A Current Affair, naming the program, and initiating a new approach to television journalism. John was seeking the equivalent for A Current Affair of a newspaper cartoonist, and recognized the quintessential larrikin qualities in Paul Hogan. The two teamed on the bond of a handshake, creating a 16 year run of the highest rating comedy specials, The Paul Hogan Shows, which John co-wrote, produced and performed in as the gormless but lovable Strop… and ultimately, the hugely resonant and globally successful Crocodile Dundee films. John’s acute instincts and sharp intelligence drove his rebellious push of World Series Cricket against the establishment for higher recognition and bigger salaries for the world’s players of his favourite game, re-imagining, marketing and capturing it in a brand-new form.
In 1980, John moved his family to a 120 acre farm in Byron Bay, buying the historic Hotel Brunswick and building the iconic Beach Hotel in 1991. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, John concentrated his efforts on philanthropy, supporting his community and worthy environmental, sporting and medical causes.
A classic Australian character, John Cornell made the lives he touched much richer, not only through donations, but also through his generosity of spirit, humour, humility and honour. A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go. He is survived by his broken-hearted wife of 46 years, Delvene Delaney, and his daughters, Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell.
Vale John Cornell
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