Probably Australia's best-known star of the 1980s, Paul Hogan shot to fame internationally through the movie Crocodile Dundee, but outside of Australia is is a little known fact that he was a professional 'rigger' working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge when he was 'discovered'.
Hogan went onto a Sunday evening TV talent show in the early 1970s, apparently to give a mouthful of cheek to one of the judges who had 'mauled' one of his mates in a previous episode. He armed himself with his instrument -- the rubbish tin-based 'Garbophone' -- and had judges and crew in hysterics with his antics. He somehow went on to come second in the talent quest for that season, delivering a mix of unexpected and original sight gags.
Approached by A Current Affair TV host Mike Willesee, after an interview for his program left the journalist 'in stitches' of laughter, Hogan worked for many months on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by day and, leaving at 4pm each afternoon for the Channel 9 Studios, delivered hilarious political and societal comment by evening.
It was at A Current Affair that he was approached by cameraman and producer John Cornell, who steered Hogan's career from that point onwards, producing the wildly popular Paul Hogan Show in the mid 1970s for Channel 9.
Those programs went on to win Hogan and Cornell (who also played Hogan's surf lifesaving cap-wearing mate 'Strop' in the series) wide acclaim as far afield as US TV networks and a strong following in the UK. Hogan also later featured as the popular Aussie larrikin on UK television and in movie thestre and print ads, introducing Fosters beer products to 'the Poms'.
John Cornell was one of the driving forces behind Australian publishing and TV magnate Kerry Packer's development of the breakaway World Series Cricket competition -- and he later produced the wildly successful Crocodile Dundee movie series, starring Paul Hogan as crocodile hunter, bush philosopher and larrikin, Mick Dundee. Hogan became even more famous for his Australian tourism TV commercials which were credited with the first major acceleration of tourists from the US and the UK in the 1980s.
Perhaps a measure of Paul Hogan's Aussie nature is a story by Cornell, years after Hogan had found international fame and fortune, when driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Hogan calls it the 'Coathanger'). Paul Hogan pointed out to Cornell, with pride, the 'catseye' road reflectors and signage that he had personally installed ...