John Cornell, the Australian filmmaker and comedian best known for his work with Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan, has sadly passed away. Cornell, who played the fan favorite role of Strop on The Paul Hogan Show, reportedly died on July 23 at his home in Byron Bay with his wife and family by his side. This follows a 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease which he was first diagnosed with in 2001. He was 80 years old.
"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 statement from the family reads.
"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," the statement added. "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."
Cornell was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in 1941. Starting as a journalist, Cornell worked at the Daily News in Perth before later finding work as the original producer of A Current Affair. While working on the show, he noticed the star potential in Paul Hogan, a then-unknown bridge rigger who was interviewed by the station. Cornell then became Hogan's manager and helped launch the Crocodile Dundee star's acting career.
For more than a decade, Cornell and Hogan executive produced the popular sitcom The Paul Hogan Show for 12 seasons. The series also starred Cornell in a recurring role as Strop, a dimwitted lifeguard. After the series ended, Cornell produced and co-wrote the screenplay for Hogan's original Crocodile Dundee movie released in 1986. He later produced and directed the 1988 sequel Crocodile Dundee II with Paul Hogan. Though the latter wasn't quite as well-received by critics, both movies were big hits at the box office.
In 1977, Cornell also worked with Kerry Packer and Austin Robertson to establish World Series Cricket. He was actively involved in recruiting players for WSC and worked with the Mojo agency to produce radio and television commercials to promote the competition, spawning the popular cricket anthem "C'mon Aussie C'mon."
Friends of Cornell are paying tribute in light of the unfortunate news. In a tweet, his friend Shane Warne writes, "Extremely sad to hear the news that my good mate & former manager John Cornell passed away. 'Corny' was a true Australian icon, visionary & a legend. We will miss you, your humour & wonderful sense of fun. Thoughts are with Dely & the family at this bloody tough time. RIP mate."
Per ABC, Byron Bay Cricket Club president Greg Daniels added: "He was one of the more decent human beings I've ever met in my life and his influence in this town, most of it [was] behind the scenes. He was a very quiet guy, didn't want publicity. That's how he operated. Yeah it's really sad mate."
Cornell's survivors include his wife of 46 years, Delvene Delaney, and three daughters, Melissa, Allira, and Liana. Our thoughts go out to them along with the rest of Cornell's family and friends at this painful time. May his legacy live on as Cornell is forever remembered. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from ABC.