Rolf Harris Biography

Overview

Date of Birth
30 March 1930
Nicknames
"Ris" at school (the last 3 letters of his surname)The OctopusBoy from BassendeanHandy Harris
Height
5' 10 1/2"

Biography

Rolf Harris came to London in 1952 to study Art. A year later he was appearing on TV as an artist and storyteller and had his first hit as a singer in the early sixties with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. After a relatively quiet period in his life in the late seventies, his brother 'Bruce Harris '

became his manager and reinvented him. Harris is perhaps best known for his 1969 hit song Two Little Boys. His hero is 'Val Doonican' . Harris enjoys taking photos, and dislikes unnecessary bad manners and inconsiderate behaviour.

In 2014, Harris was jailed for five years and nine months following his conviction for historic sexual abuse against four girls dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His crimes came to light following the death and subsequent sordid revelations of prolific sexual abuse by broadcaster, DJ and charity fundraiser Sir 'Jimmy Savile' , which in turn led to the establishment of Operation Yewtree, a police investigation into historic sexual abuse by celebrities. Harris was arrested and charged by Operation Yewtree officers, although his crimes were not directly connected to Savile, and convicted by a unanimous verdict of the jury.

Spouse

'Alwen Hughes' (1 March 1958 - present); 1 child

Trade Mark

Goatee beard and glasses

Trivia

Studied at the University of Western Australia.

Has now lived in Britain for many years, where he has had his own television series since 1954, based on his expertise as both a popular singer and an artist.

It was in his capacity as singer/artist, that he was 'targeted' in "The Goodies" episode: 'Scatty Safari' - where there was a 'plague of Rolf Harrises' - all of them singing and painting!

Rolf Harris was a star performer at the Opening Ceremony of the XIIth British Commonwealth Games, which were held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, in 1982 - where Rolf Harris sang 'Waltzing Matilda' and also a restructured form of his best-selling hit: 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport'.

He was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 1989 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to the community as an entertainer.

Has now lived in Britain since 1952: he has had numerous television shows since 1953 when he got an audition drawing cartoons on TV show "Jigsaw", based on his expertise as both a popular singer and a cartoonist. Queensland, Australia, in 1982 - where he sang Australia.

Named after writer 'Rolf Boldrewood' .

He and Alwen have a daughter, 'Bindi Harris' (born 10 March 1964). She is named after the town of Bindi Bindi in Western Australia where the Harrises found Bindi stone, a type of fossilised asbestos.

Invented the 'wobble-board' - a musical instrument basically consisting of a large, flexible piece of wood which makes a characteristic oscillating sound when 'wobbled'. This was parodied by 'The Kinks' on their 1969 song 'Australia', which features a wobble-board solo.

He was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to entertainment in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

He was awarded the M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1968 Queen's Birthday Honours List and the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1977 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to the performing arts.

He painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as part of her 80th birthday celebrations. It was documented on BBC 1's The Queen, by Rolf.

Harris was one of the guests who performed a cover of "Stairway to Heaven" on the Australian TV series "The Money or the Gun." Performed to the tune of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down," Harris' version became a surprise hit, going to #7 on the charts. Harris' version appears on a compilation DVD of 25 versions of the song performed on the show.

He was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in the 2001 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to entertainment, to charity, and to community.

(July 2008) Inducted into the Aria Hall of fame.

Was for many years the face of British Paints, appearing in television and radio commercials that ended with a drum roll on a can of paint and the catchphrase: "Trust British Paints? Sure can!".

In June 2014 he was found guilty of (and in July 2014 he was sentenced to 5 years and 9 months) 12 historic indecent assaults against four girls aged between 8 and 19 at the time of the assaults. The sentence was referred to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve after complaints that it was too lenient. On 30 July 2014, the new Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, announced that he would not be referring the sentence to the court of appeal for review "as he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it. The sentencing judge was bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offending." On 1 August 2014, the Judicial Office said that Harris had applied to appeal against his conviction and that his lawyers had lodged papers at the Court of Appeal. In October 2014, Harris was refused permission to appeal. Since his conviction there have been further reports to police regarding alleged sexual offences on young girls and women by him.

Quotes

Can you tell what it is yet?

The most wonderful magic is watching someone doing a drawing in front of your eyes and that's why drawing and painting on TV is wonderful - it's always a total mystery, and the training I have had in fine art, I have been able to use that.

I hope that maybe I am on this planet to try and spread a bit of love and affection and to try and help people to warm toward their fellow man instead of all this destruction and misery

I draw the line at filth and crude language. It seems to be an excuse for not being funny.

I like to slosh on paint to kill the white of the canvas with a bit of turpentine. Then I start with a blur which looks something like the subject and I gradually refine it.

I can't bear the thought of having everything in an exhibition being the same, I hate it when I go into a gallery and the paintings are all identical, with the same subject but from slightly different angles.

It's essential that you make eye contact with your audience. You've got to know what's happening out there. If you make eye contact with just one person, everybody in the place, by some indefinable magic, is sure that you're talking to them personally.

[on his longevity] Try and spread a lot of love and affection around the world. The most important thing is not to 'con' the public. Be real.

I don't mind how they [people] see me as long as they see me.

I don't quite know what the reason for critics' existence is really. They seem to sit there and try and think of something snide to say about something which is fairly popular, so if it's popular they think it can't be any good.

People say "Are you going to retire?" To me that sort of equates with lying down and dying. When you're doing something you love to do, why would you stop?

Portrayed in

"The Goodies" (1970)

Interview

"Radio Times" (UK), 31 December 2005, Vol. 327, Iss. 4265, pg. 22-23, "Rolf Goes Royal"

"Q" (UK), April 1993, Iss. 79, pg. 7-11, "Rolf Harris"

"TV Times" (UK), 2 February 1991, Vol. 141, Iss. 5, pg. 68-69, by: Steve Clark, "Come On In! At Home With Rolf"

Article

"The Daily Telegraph" (UK), 15 June 2015, "Mocking his victims won't cost Rolf Harris"

"The Weekend Australian" (Australia), 5 July 2014, "Rolf Harris jailed for almost three years"

"The Sun" (UK), 5 July 2014, "No Remorse: But smiling star escapes charges over paedo pics"

"Daily Mail" (UK), 5 July 2014, "Smirking Rolf and a final insult to his victims"

"The Daily Telegraph" (UK), 5 July 2014, "Rolf Harris, the smiling sex predator, free in three years"

"Daily Mirror" (UK), 5 July 2014, "5 Years Jail: But could pervert Rolf be caged for longer?"

"Daily Mail" (UK), 1 July 2014, by: Rebecca Camber, "For 50 years, he was the face of wholesome family TV. Now we know the truth: Rolf is a predator who duped us all"

"Weekender" (Australia), 10 January 1974, pg. 34-35, by: Allan Raymond, "Choose Between 'Mo' and Myself"

"Hör Zu" (West Germany), 2 January 1971, Vol. 25, Iss. 1, pg. 10-11, "Duell am Freitagabend"

Magazine Cover Photo

"Artists & Illustrators" (UK), June 2012

"Daily Mail Weekend" (UK), 12 May 2012

"What's On" (UK), January 2011

"Artists & Illustrators" (UK), December 2007

"Radio Times" (UK), 6 December 2003

"Weekend" (UK), 2 November 2002

"Radio Times" (UK), 26 August 1995, Iss. 3736

"Practical Woodworking" (UK), November 1990

"Animator" (UK), June 1990, Iss. 27

"Stamps" (UK), 1988, Vol. 8, Iss. 1

"Weekend" (UK), 9 December 1981

"Valiant" (UK), 2 September 1972

"Look-In" (UK), 17 June 1972, Iss. 25

"TV Times" (UK), 29 April 1972

"Look-In" (UK), 22 April 1972

"Look-In" (UK), 25 March 1972

"Hör Zu" (West Germany), 2 January 1971, Vol. 25, Iss. 1

"Radio Times" (UK), 17 December 1970, Iss. 2458

"New Musical Express" (UK), 10 January 1970, Iss. 1200

"Radio Times" (UK), 2 January 1969, Iss. 2356

"Weekly News" (New Zealand), 5 August 1968

"Radio Times" (UK), 19 January 1967, Iss. 2254

"Melody Maker" (UK), 8 June 1963

Other Works

(1997) Album, "Can You Tell What It is Yet?" EMI.

(1995) Album, "Rolf Rules O.K!", Music Collection International.

(1994) Album, "The Definitive Rolf Harris", EMI.

Does several live musical performances every year around the UK, Ireland and Australia and has become somewhat of an icon among students

Does a lot of work for charity and is chairman of PHAB (charity which mixes physically handicapped and able-bodied people in the community)

Plays the digeridoo (Australian instrument) on Kate Bush's album "The Dreaming" and his voice can be heard at the end of her single from this album, "Dreamtime."

Scored several major novelty hits in the 1960s, including Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, Two Little Boys and Six White Boomers.

Song "Two Little Boys" was parodied by Billy Connolly as "Two Little Boys in Blue."

TV commercial urging people to take up swimming lessons.

(1991) Commercial for KFC, performing "Jake The Peg".

(2007) TV commercial for Woolworths

(2009) TV commercial for Churchill Home Insurance.

(2002) Book: "Rolf on Art: My approach from first steps to finished paintings". London: BBC Books. ISBN 0563488522

(2008) Book: "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport". Lindfield, N.S.W.: Scholastic Australia. ISBN 1741691192

(2010) Book: "Buster Fleabags". London: Corgi. ISBN 0552160598

(1989) Book: "Every Picture Tells a Story". London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0714825549

(1989) Book: "Win or Die!: The Making of a King". London: Knight Books. ISBN 0340516178

(1997) Book: "Beastly Behaviour: more true animal tales". London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0099257238

(2000) Book: "Tall Animal Tales: amazing true stories from the star of TV's Animal hospital". London: Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0747271933

(2012) Book: "A Portrait of London". Lichfield: DeMontfort Fine Art. ISBN 0956616380

(1986) Book: "Your Cartoon Time: contains all you need for hours of drawing fun!". Sevenoaks: Knight Books. ISBN: 0340392231

(2000) Book: "Favourite Animal Stories". London: Bodley Head. ISBN 0370325443

(1991) Book: "Your Animation Time". London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0340561602

(1988) Book: "A Catalogue of Comic Verse". Sevenoaks: Knight Books. ISBN 0340423870

(1995) Book: "Rolf's Cats". London: Anaya Publishers. ISBN 1854702610

(1996) Book: "True Animal Tales". London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0099222922

(1998) Book: "Draw Your Own Cartoons with Rolf Harris". London: Souvenir Press. ISBN 0285634542

(1977) Book: "The Rolf Harris Animal Quiz Book: animals of the British Isles". London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0099154404

(1992) Book: "Rolf's Cartoon Club". Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0340579994

(1993) Book: "Me and You and Poems 2". London: Knight Books. ISBN 034058047X

(1973) Book: "Write Your Own Pop Song". London: Wolfe. ISBN 0723405093

(1991) Book: "Your Joke Time: The complete fun guide to joke telling success". London: Knight Books. ISBN 0340530987