John Cornell was an Australian entrepreneur, television producer, and sports promoter who made significant contributions to the entertainment industry in Australia. Born on February 2, 1941, in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Cornell gained prominence as a key figure behind the success of the iconic Australian television show “The Paul Hogan Show.” He went on to establish himself as a successful businessman, sports promoter, and philanthropist. This biography explores the life and achievements of John Cornell, showcasing his contributions to Australian entertainment and beyond.
Early Life and Education
John Cornell was born to parents Leslie and Eva Cornell in Kalgoorlie, a gold-mining town in Western Australia. Growing up in a modest family, Cornell developed a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. He attended the local Kalgoorlie Primary School and later enrolled in the prestigious Hale School in Perth. It was during his time at Hale School that Cornell began showcasing his talents in both academics and sports.
Cornell’s passion for cricket became evident during his school years. He excelled as a cricketer, and his talent caught the attention of selectors at a state level. After completing his education, Cornell decided to pursue a career in cricket, balancing his aspirations with his growing entrepreneurial spirit.
John Cornell embarked on a promising cricketing career, playing as a leg-spinning all-rounder. In 1963, he made his debut for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match. However, his cricketing journey faced numerous setbacks, including injuries and a lack of consistent form. Despite the challenges, Cornell’s passion for the sport remained unwavering.
While pursuing his cricketing dreams, John Cornell recognized the potential for opportunities beyond the cricket field. He began exploring his entrepreneurial instincts and ventured into various business endeavors. One of his notable ventures was opening a nightclub called “Kommotion” in Perth. The club gained popularity and became a go-to destination for the city’s youth, providing Cornell with a taste of success and a glimpse into the world of entertainment.
The Rise of “The Paul Hogan Show”
Cornell’s most significant contribution to Australian entertainment came through his collaboration with comedian Paul Hogan. In the early 1970s, Cornell discovered Hogan’s talent while working on a promotional campaign for a Sydney-based radio station. Recognizing Hogan’s unique humor and relatability, Cornell saw an opportunity to bring their combined talents to television.
Together with Hogan, Cornell created “The Paul Hogan Show,” a sketch comedy series that showcased Hogan’s iconic characters and sharp wit. The show premiered in 1973 and quickly became a national sensation. It provided a fresh and humorous perspective on Australian culture, resonating with audiences across the country.
“The Paul Hogan Show” featured memorable characters like Hoges, Strop (played by Cornell), and Leo Wanker, and introduced catchphrases that entered the Australian vernacular. The show’s success catapulted Hogan and Cornell to stardom, firmly establishing them as influential figures in the Australian entertainment industry.
Building upon the success of “The Paul Hogan Show,” John Cornell sought to expand his creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. In the late 1970s, he collaborated with Hogan to create and produce the immensely popular Australian film “Crocodile Dundee.” Released in 1986, the film achieved unprecedented success, both domestically and internationally, becoming one of Australia’s highest-grossing films.
Cornell’s involvement in “Crocodile Dundee” not only showcased his production skills but also highlighted his astute business acumen. He recognized the potential for the film’s success beyond the Australian market and played an instrumental role in its international distribution and marketing strategies.
Sports Promotion and Philanthropy
John Cornell’s entrepreneurial spirit extended into the realm of sports promotion. He saw an opportunity to combine his love for sports and his business acumen by promoting various sporting events in Australia. Cornell became involved in promoting cricket matches, including the famous World Series Cricket tournament in the late 1970s. His efforts helped bring innovation and excitement to the sport, attracting large audiences and elevating the popularity of cricket in Australia.
In addition to his achievements in the entertainment and sports industries, John Cornell was also known for his philanthropic endeavors. He used his success and resources to give back to the community and support causes close to his heart. Cornell was a strong advocate for Indigenous rights and worked towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. He actively supported organizations focused on Indigenous education, health, and cultural preservation.
Later Years and Legacy
As John Cornell’s career progressed, he gradually transitioned away from the entertainment industry and focused more on his personal life and philanthropic pursuits. In 1980, he married actress and producer Delvene Delaney, and the couple had two children together. Cornell embraced family life and made a conscious decision to prioritize his role as a husband and father.
Despite his success and contributions, Cornell preferred to remain out of the public eye in his later years. He led a private and low-key lifestyle, spending time with his family and close friends. However, his impact on Australian entertainment and sports remained significant and enduring.
John Cornell’s legacy is one of innovation, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. He played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Australian comedy and television, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Through his collaborations with Paul Hogan, he brought laughter and joy to millions of Australians, fostering a sense of national identity and pride.
Beyond entertainment, Cornell’s sports promotion efforts and philanthropic endeavors reflected his commitment to making a positive difference in society. His dedication to Indigenous rights and support for various charitable causes exemplify his compassionate nature and desire to create a more equitable and inclusive Australia.
John Cornell’s contributions to Australian entertainment, sports promotion, and philanthropy will continue to be celebrated and remembered. His entrepreneurial spirit, creative vision, and commitment to social causes serve as an inspiration to future generations of entertainers, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists.
John Cornell’s life journey was marked by his ability to spot opportunities, his passion for innovation, and his desire to make a difference. From his early days as a cricket player to his remarkable success as a television producer and sports promoter, Cornell exemplified determination and resilience. His collaboration with Paul Hogan on “The Paul Hogan Show” and the creation of the blockbuster film “Crocodile Dundee” solidified his place in Australian entertainment history.
Beyond his professional achievements, Cornell’s philanthropy and advocacy for Indigenous rights showcased his genuine care for others and his commitment to social causes. Through his contributions, he made a lasting impact on Australian entertainment, sports promotion, and philanthropy, leaving a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. John Cornell’s entrepreneurial spirit, creative vision, and dedication to making a difference continue to inspire and shape the cultural landscape of Australia.