Rolf Harris: A household name for 50 years
Friday 19 April 2013
Australian entertainer Rolf Harris has been a household name for more than half a century.
Millions of young people grew up to the sounds of his inimitable wobble board, didgeridoo and quirky singing style, while his catchphrase "Can you tell what is it yet?" became synonymous with his sketches that only became clear in the final strokes of his marker pen.
Harris's global popularity saw him gain Top 10 hits across three continents and present an array of television shows around the world.
The pinnacle of his career as a painter came in 2005 when he was commissioned to paint an official portrait of the Queen to mark her 80th birthday.
Born in 1930 in Perth, Western Australia, Harris excelled as an athlete, winning national and state swimming championships in his teenage years.
But it was his passion for art that led him to board a boat at the age of 21 and head around the world to the UK in pursuit of his dream of becoming a painter.
In London - which Harris described as "the hub of the universe" - the Australian joined an art school, but after two years he dropped out and instead started drawing on children's television programmes.
He married his wife, Alwen, in 1958, and after a brief return to Australian television the couple travelled back to England, where Harris ploughed on with his successful career in television and music.
His first hit, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", was released in 1960 and reached Number One in the Australian singles chart, Number Three in the US and Number Nine in the UK.
With 30 studio albums, 48 singles, two live albums and four compilation records, Harris's musical output spanned six decades.
In 1961, "Sun Arise" reached Number Three in the UK, but his biggest triumph was "Two Little Boys" in 1969, which charted at Number One in the UK and Ireland, and Number Seven in his home country.
Harris has been on our screens presenting art and reality television shows for children and adults since the 1950s.
He made his name on programmes like the BBC's Whirligig and Hi There And Hey Presto It's Rolf, and his big television break came in 1967 when he began hosting his own BBC1 programme, The Rolf Harris Show, which was broadcast to 1974.
He presented Rolf Harris's Cartoon Time on BBC1 in the 1980s and Rolf's Cartoon Club on ITV between 1989-1993 before turning his attention to Animal Hospital, which he hosted from 1994 to 2004.
Harris, who has lived in Bray, Berkshire for more than 50 years, was awarded an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006.
He was made a Fellow of Bafta ( British Academy of Film and Television Arts) last year.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones, season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Martin Scorsese 'in shock' after death on set of new film Silence
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures