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Vale: John Cornell

John Cornell, best known as larrikin 'Strop' on The Paul Hogan Show, has died.

John Cornell, best known as larrikin ‘Strop’ on The Paul Hogan show, has died, aged of 80.

Cornell passed away peacefully this morning in Byron Bay after a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, surrounded by family.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

He is survived by Delvene Delaney, his wife of 46-years, and his daughters, Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell.

Cornell, affectionately known as ‘Strop’, was born in Kalgoorlie in 1941 and quickly rose 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. Seeking the equivalent of a newspaper cartoonist, and recognised the quintessential larrikin qualities in Paul Hogan. The two teamed on the bond of a handshake, creating a 16 year run of the hugely-successful The Paul Hogan Shows, which Cornell co-wrote, produced and performed in.

The duo also produced Crocodile Dundee in 1986 -still the most profitable Australian movie of all time.

He was also famously part of the pioneering team that reinvented World Series Cricket for prime time television.

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 Cornell family statement said in part, “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.”

Nine’s Director of Television Michael Healy 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.

“Our sincere condolences go to his beloved wife Delvene and daughters, Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell as well as all those who he loved and shared his life with. Our love and thoughts are also with David Gyngell and Leila McKinnon who were like family with Corney and Delvene.”

Actor Abe Forsythe who played Cornell in Nine’s two part mini-series 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 brains. What they did with Dundee is incredible and he always seems to be thinking about ten steps ahead. They did those Australian Tourism ads for free as a way of breaking Hogan into the US market.”

It was a gem of an idea that Cornell took to Packer: to hire the best cricketers, all of whom considered themselves underpaid, and revamp television broadcasts -all of which had been on the ABC.

“He gave the idea to Kerry, he didn’t want anything in return. He just knew that Packer would be the person who had the balls to make it work. A few sources have told me he never yelled at Cornell, having a respectful admiration between the two of them.”

Nine will replay Crocodile Dundee at 8:30pm Saturday.

Source: Nine News, The Age.

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