John Cornell, man behind comedian Paul Hogan and Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket success, has died aged 80

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He became Hogan’s manager and later appeared on the highly successful Paul Hogan’s show like the character of Strop, the name he referred to many times during his life.

Cornell was media mogul Kerry Packer’s confidante during World Series Cricket in the late 1970s.Credit:Photographic fairfax

Together, in 1986, they produced Dundee Crocodile, which remains the highest grossing Australian film of all time.

Cornell was new to film production when he went with director Peter Faiman and Hogan to Kakadu to shoot Crocodile Dundee.

“It’s going to be good,” he told visiting reporters with the confidence of a showman.

And so it was. The comedy about outback adventurer Mick Dundee, which is said to have cost less than $ 9 million to make, has won a triumph of $ 328 million worldwide.

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The only movie to sell more tickets that year was Top Gun. The screenplay, by Hogan, Ken Shadie and Cornell, was nominated for an Oscar. In Australia, Crocodile Dundee is still the country’s most successful film at the box office with $ 47 million. Cornell turned to directing the 1988 sequel, Crocodile Dundee II. It was also a hit worldwide and took Australia $ 24 million

In 1976, he left an indelible mark on Australian sport when he introduced Packer to the idea of ​​World Series Cricket.

John’s keen instincts and keen intelligence drove his rebellious World Series Cricket push against the establishment for greater recognition and higher salaries for players around the world of his favorite game, re-imagining it, marketing it. and capturing him in a whole new form, ”his family said in their statement.

Cornell was in a Perth hotel room with businessman Austin Robertson and Australian fast pitcher Dennis Lillee, discussing poor wages and working conditions for Australian players.

David Gyngell, John Cornell and John Singleton at the Magic Millions Horse Race on the Gold Coast in January 2009.

David Gyngell, John Cornell and John Singleton at the Magic Millions Horse Race on the Gold Coast in January 2009.Credit:Steve Holland

The discussion turned into a one-time match involving Australia’s top players, with part of the proceeds and income going to them.

“I think I know someone who might be interested in this,” Cornell said.

The person he had in mind was Packer, who was 40 at the time and a year earlier had inherited a media dynasty – including Channel Nine (the owner of this banner) and Australian Consolidated Press – from his father. legendary Sir Frank Packer.

Packer and Cornell designed World Series Cricket, secretly recruiting the best players from the Australian and overseas squad. Cornell and Robertson secured England captain Tony Greig with a signed signature in Cornell’s front yard.

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The first season of WSC was a resounding success, with moderate crowds and interest from all media outside of Packer’s realm.

As Packer convinced the government of Neville Wran NSW to erect lights at SCG for the second season, Cornell climbed the steps of the Mojo ad agency in Sydney in search of a jingle to capture the hearts of the Australian public.

Industry titans Allan Johnston and Alan Morris proposed Go Australia Go! and he became so popular that he was number 1 on the Australian charts for two weeks.

On November 28, 1978, as the song echoed through the speakers, Australia faced the West Indies in the season opener.

Abe Forsythe, left, played John Cornell in 'Howzat!  Kerry Packer's War ”on the World Series Cricket Revolution.  Also pictured are Cariba Heine (Delvene Delaney) and Travis McMahon (Paul Hogan).

Abe Forsythe, left, played John Cornell in ‘Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War ”on the World Series Cricket Revolution. Also pictured are Cariba Heine (Delvene Delaney) and Travis McMahon (Paul Hogan).Credit:Dallas kilponen

The crowd swelled with the tea break, prompting Packer to order the doors open to the public waiting outside.

“It was the first time I heard the song and the crowd sang it,” said Australia captain Ian Chappell. “That’s when I felt we were on the Australian side.”

An estimated crowd of 52,000 people filled out the SCG. Cornell ran the character to the press gallery and said, “The people have found the truth.”

“I don’t mean that there haven’t been some tough times, but John is probably the bravest man I know,” Delaney told News Corp last year. “He never complains, he never asks ‘why me?’, And he always tries to make sure other people are okay.

Nine’s television director, Michael Healy, said Cornell had “done magic on television” for decades.

Cornell, Delaney and Hogan in November 1976.

Cornell, Delaney and Hogan in November 1976.Credit:Herald Archives

“John Cornell was a man of enormous intelligence and a creative genius who managed to reach out to so many people, but also importantly, he was a man with a big heart who filled a room,” he said.

Cornell and his family moved to a farm in Byron Bay in 1980. He bought the Brunswick Hotel and built the Beach Hotel in 1991. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001.

Cornell is survived by Delaney, to whom he has been married for 46 years, and his daughters Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell.

with Garry Maddox

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