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Paul Hogan Show’s Cornell dies

John Cornell as Strop with Paul Hogan in The Paul Hogan Show

John Cornell, the long-time producer and on-screen collaborator with Australian comedian Paul (Crocodile Dundee) Hogan, has died from Parkinson’s disease, aged 80.

A former newspaper journalist, Cornell was producing the Nine Network’s nightly A Current Affair when he discovered Hogan and offered him a regular slot on the show as the TV equivalent of a newspaper cartoonist.

Subsequently, in 1978 the pair started a 16-year run on The Paul Hogan Show comedy specials on Nine, which Cornell co-wrote, produced and performed in as the gormless but lovable sidekick Strop.

In 1976, he took the concept of World Series Cricket (WSC) to Nine’s owner Kerry Packer. WSC involved paying big money to some of the world’s top cricketers and revolutionised the previously staid sport in Australia and internationally.

In 1986, Cornell produced and co-wrote Crocodile Dundee with Hogan and Ken Shadie – it became the highest grossing Australian movie of all time.

Cornell produced and directed the less successful sequel Crocodile Dundee II in 1988 and Almost an Angel, the 1990 drama-comedy starring and written by Hogan.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, Cornell concentrated his efforts on philanthropy, supporting environmental, sporting and medical causes.

Michael Healy, Nine’s director of TV, said: “John Cornell was a man of enormous intellect and a creative genius who managed to touch so many, but as importantly he was a man with a big heart that filled a room.

“From journalism with the creation of A Current Affair, through sport with World Series Cricket and entertainment with his mate Hoges they made magic on television for decades here at Nine.”

Actor Abe Forsythe, who played Cornell in Nine’s 2012 miniseries Howzat!: Kerry Packer’s War, once said: “He’s one of the few we’ve ever had in this country that has a true creative and business brain. What they did with Dundee is incredible and he always seems to be thinking about 10 steps ahead. They did those Australian tourism ads for free as a way of breaking Hogan into the US market.”

In a statement, his family said: “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 Delvene Delaney, his wife of 46 years, and daughters Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell.

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