John Cornell, the Australian director and writer whose longtime friendship and comedy partnership with actor Paul Hogan led to the pair’s word on Crocodile Dundee and other film and TV projects, died today at his home in Byron Bay, New South Wales following a two-decade battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 80.
His death was announced by his family, including wife Delvene Delaney, an Australian TV personality.
“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 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.”
Born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, the former journalist was working as the original producer on Australia’s A Current Affair when he met Hogan, becoming the comedian’s manager and taking a co-starring role on The Paul Hogan Show sketch comedy series in 1973.
The two achieved international success with the highly profitable 1986 feature film comedy Crocodile Dundee, which Cornell produced, co-writing the surprise hit’s Oscar-nominated screenplay with Hogan and Ken Shadie. Cornell produced and directed the 1988 sequel Crocodile Dundee II, and two years later produced and directed Hogan’s Almost an Angel.
In addition to his wife, Cornell is survived by daughters Melissa, Allira and Liana.