Paul Hogan has spoken out about the death of his longtime best friend John Cornell.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph by phone from his Los Angeles mansion, the emotional 81-year-old reflected on his friendship with Cornell.
‘I wish everyone could have a friend like that,’ he told the publication.
Heartbroken: Paul Hogan spoke out about the death of his longtime best friend John Cornell on Saturday
‘We were both larrikins, we both never took life too seriously,’ he added.
Cornell died aged 80 this week following a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He’s best known for discovering Hogan while working as a producer on TV show A Current Affair in 1971, before later becoming the legendary Australian actor’s manager.
He and Hogan also produced Crocodile Dundee together in 1986, which remains the most profitable Australian film of all time.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he died at his home in Byron Bay surrounded by his wife Delvene Delaney, his eldest daughter Melissa, and his youngest daughter Liana on the phone from the UK.
Farewell: Cornell, who was Hogan’s best friend and former manager, died aged 80 this week (pictured together on The Paul Hogan Show)
‘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,’ his family said in a statement.
‘A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go.’
Cornell was fundamental to the establishment of World Series Cricket, which created the one-day form of the game.
He worked closely with media mogul Kerry Packer to begin the rebel competition, which sent shockwaves through the cricket establishment.
Cornell is pictured with his wife Delvene Delaney in Sydney in 2006
The pair launched daring raids to sign the best players in the world and Cornell played a huge role in the marketing of the breakaway comp as it rose from early struggles to become a landmark in Australia’s sporting history.
Cornell got his start in the 1960s as a journalist for The Daily News in Perth.
He later became a producer on Nine’s A Current Affair, which is where he discovered Paul Hogan, who was working as a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the time.
He became Hogan’s manager and eventual co-star on The Paul Hogan Show, where he played ‘Strop’.
Flashback: Cornell played Strop on The Paul Hogan Show. (Pictured with Hogan and Delvene Delaney)
Back at it: He reprised his role as Strop for a beer commercial last year (pictured)
From there, he produced and co-wrote the screenplay for Hogan’s 1986 film, which became the highest grossing Australian film of all time.
Cornell and his wife owned several properties in Byron Bay, beginning with a home they purchased together in the 1980s.
At the time of purchase the beachfront pad was worth around $325,000 dollars.
It was later sold for around $10million to Harvey Norman heir Glen Norman.
Property: Cornell and his wife owned several properties in Byron Bay, beginning with a home they purchased together in the 1980s (pictured) which they later sold for $10million
The 2.3 acre property is based on Belongil Beach and has gorgeous views of Cape Byron Light-house, Julian Rocks and Mt Warning.
John owned a lot of property around Byron Bay and surrounding areas, including the popular Hotel Brunswick at Brunswick Heads.
In 2013, Channel Nine executive David Gyngell spent $5.25 million to buy a half share of the hotel.
In 2017, Cornell spent $3,375,000 on a property in the Byron Bay hinterland.
The property sits adjacent to a 18-hectare parcel that Cornell’s owned since the 1980s.
Big spender: One of the biggest properties in Cornell’s real estate portfolio is the Hotel Brunswick in Brunswick Heads (pictured)
Nine’s Director of Television, Mike Healy, paid tribute to Cornell on Friday after his death was announced.
‘John Cornell was a man of enormous intellect and a creative genius who managed to touch so many, but as importantly he was a man with a big heart that filled a room,’ Healy told Nine News.
‘From journalism with the creation of A Current Affair, through sport with World Series Cricket and entertainment with his mate Hoges they made magic on television for decades here at Nine,’ he continued.
‘Our sincere condolences go to his beloved wife Delvene and daughters, Melissa, Allira and Liana Cornell as well as all those who he loved and shared his life with. Our love and thoughts are also with David Gyngell and Leila McKinnon who were like family with Corney and Delvene.’
The Life and Times of John Cornell
John Cornell was born in Kalgoorlie on March 2, 1941
He worked as a milkman, bookmaker, and nightclub owner and eventually a print journalist for Perth’s Daily News
In 1971, he met Paul Hogan while working as a producer on A Current Affair
Cornell became Hogan’s manager and together they created The Paul Hogan Show
After The Paul Hogan Show ended in 1984, Hogan and Cornell wrote and produced Crocodile Dundee together in 1986
Years later, Cornell would become fundamental to the establishment of World Series Cricket, which created the one-day form of the game
He married his third wife, actress Delvene Delaney, in 1977
Cornell later became a mini real estate mogul with multiple properties across Byron Bay and surrounding areas, including Hotel Brunswick in Brunswick Heads