Australian icon Paul Hogan has opened up on marriage, his childhood ‘trouble making’ and ‘sexist’ TV sketches while celebrating his career which spanned almost five decades.
Hogan, who helped put Australia on the map with his ‘shrimp on the barbie’ television adverts, is looking back on his showbusiness career with the ABC’s Australian Story ahead of his 80th birthday.
In the first episode of the two-part series, friends and former colleagues praised the ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ performer.
The larrikin Sydney Harbour Bridge rigger from the city’s west became an instant star in 1971 when he entered television talent show New Faces to make fun of the judges.
Then aged in his 30s, Hogan’s natural ability as a comedian saw him quickly become a national celebrity with regular appearances on Mike Willesee’s A Current Affair.
Paul Hogan, who turns 80 next month, looked back on his career for Australian Story
Paul Hogan starred in some of Australia’s most famous tourism commercials
Hogan’s rise to fame was a world away from his humble upbringing in Sydney’s western suburbs.
‘I was a westie, that’s where I grew up. Granville, Chullora, Bankstown, Greenacre,’ Hogan said.
‘We were sort of a regular family for that era. I was never the class clown, but yes I was a bit of a know-all and a bit of a troublemaker.’
Hogan, who was employed as a lifeguard, met his future wife Nolene Edwards at the swimming pool he worked at.
‘I was a massive flirt, I liked her and she liked me, and we got married,’ Hogan said.
‘I actually had three sons by the time I was 22. But I sort of dug it, I loved it. And we grew up together, me and my kids.’
The young couple tried to keep their children as grounded as possible amid his growing fame.
Hogan was further flung into the spotlight with The Paul Hogan Show, a series of ‘dated’ sketches poking fun at men’s behaviour.
Hogan was further flung into the spotlight with The Paul Hogan Show, a series of ‘dated’ sketches poking fun at men’s behaviour
With sidekicks John Cornell and Delvene Delaney, the trio admitted the ‘sexist’ segments would not have been aired today, but things were different in the 70s.
‘You wouldn’t get away with it now. No way. It was a bit sexist and a bit racist,’ Ms Delaney said.
Hogan said: ‘The sketches were designed, not for you to perv on the girls, but to show what idiots we men can make of ourselves over an attractive woman.
‘So it is a bit sexist, and I apologise to the men.’
It was when Hogan and Mr Cornell were overseas in London that he set his eyes on transforming Australia’s tourism landscape.
Ms Delaney said: ‘John and Paul were walking past Australia House in London and saw a picture of a koala that was our poster campaign for tourism and were a bit disappointed and thought they could do a much better job’.
Hogan carrying crocodile in bar in a scene from the film Crocodile Dundee, 1986
Hogan starred in an ad campaign for Winfield cigarettes as his career took off in the 1970s
With an emphasis on ‘Gday’ and Australia’s golden shores, the pair embarked on sourcing the highest production quality for the commercials, to also be shown on prime-time television in America.
The advertisements are one of Australia’s most prominent tourism campaigns to this day.
Hogan’s next goal was to crack the American movie industry, with his character Mike Dundee.
‘I just got bored of writing sketches. And I thought, ”I’d like to do something that lasts longer than four minutes”,’ Hogan said.
Crocodile Dundee, which premiered in 1986, is an action comedy about an Australian crocodile poacher crossing paths with an American reporter.
Born and bred in western Sydney, Hogan shot to fame while working as a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Hogan ‘wasn’t interested’ in who was to play the role of his on-screen love interest, according to director of the blockbuster Peter Faiman.
‘Paul wasn’t interested in who that person might be. As it turns out, of course, it was Linda Kozlowski,’ he said.
‘She came out to Australia not really knowing what she was getting into.’
Kozlowski and Hogan’s real-life relationship developed in sequence with filming.
‘She thought I was a little bit aloof, or a little bit, uh, closed,’ Hogan recalled.
Mr Faiman said Hogan and Kozlowski’s ‘rather difficult association’ manifested into a closer relationship throughout the movie.
‘As the movie went on, they understood each other better and better and better. A lot of what we saw on air was true life,’ he said.
Hogan (pictured ) went from a Sydney Harbour Bridge rigger to a national celebrity in the 70s
Hogan in a scene for Crocodile Dundee with co-star Linda Kozlowski who he later married
But Hogan was married to Noelene at the time.
Ms Delaney said: ‘Linda came to me at one point and was worried about it because she knew Paul was married. But it was unstoppable.’
Hogan met and married Noelene in his teens and already had three children by the time he was 22.
Hogan and Noelene first married in 1958, and were together for more than 20 years until they separated and divorced in 1981.
Less than a year later the pair, who have five children together, remarried, however divorced again in 1986 after Hogan met and fell in love with his much younger co-star Kozlowski on the set of Crocodile Dundee.
It was revealed in 2016 that Hogan and Noelene didn’t speak for 17 years following their breakup.
Hogan and Kozlowski married in 1990 and later had son Chance.
Kozlowski filed for divorce from Hogan in 2013, although they remain amicable.
In the preview for part two, Hogan said: ‘I’m not a great husband. I’m good early’.
He also said he was ‘angry’ and wanted to ‘thump somebody’ in reference to allegations he owed the Australian Tax Office money.
Hogan had been in a years-long battle with the ATO, which alleged he owed $150million in tax, before the matter was settled privately.
The actor previously threatened to ‘exact revenge’ on the office after its commissioner Chris Jordan told a Senate estimates hearing Hogan may have ‘paid a substantial amount of tax to settle the matter’.
Hogan said the agreement was reached on a ‘without admission’ basis and insisted he ‘didn’t pay them off’.
No charges were ever laid and there is not suggestion Hogan was involved in any wrongdoing.
Part two of Australian Story’s A Fortunate Life will air on ABC on Monday at 8pm.
Hogan, pictured with his second wife Linda Kozlowski will turn 80 next month