Australian actor Paul Hogan was mellow-voiced and rugged enough to succeed as an action hero, but he loved making people laugh, something he'd been doing on a professional basis since his debut as a blindfolded, tap dancing knife thrower on the Aussie TV amateur contest New Faces. With his late-1970s weekly half hour TV show The Paul Hogan Show, he became the most popular comedian in Australia. His material was limited to a handful of subjects -- breasts, bums, beer, and soccer -- but the series' selling card was Hogan's ability to play a wide variety of distinct characterizations, sometimes making the transition from one character to another so quickly that he literally seemed to be two different people. Hogan was able to expand his popularity to England with a series of commercials for Australian Lager Beer; but though The Paul Hogan Show had been shown on a smattering of American independent and PBS stations, he was largely unknown in the U.S. While visiting New York in 1985, Hogan was struck by the wide cultural gaps between the Big Apple and the Outback. With his manager John Cornell as director, Hogan took a big chunk of his TV earnings and produced an amiable culture-clash comedy, Crocodile Dundee (Hogan and Cornell owned 65 percent of the picture, the rest going to the circle of friends who'd invested in the project). To make sure that American audiences would be primed for this film, Hogan agreed to film a series of "visit Australia" ads for no salary. The strategy worked: Crocodile Dundee opened big in the U.S. in the fall of 1986, ultimately posting a worldwide gross of $375,000,000. While filming Dundee, the long-married Hogan fell in love with leading lady Linda Kozlowski; after divesting himself of wife number one (he claimed that the marriage was on the rocks anyway), Hogan made Kozlowski his bride -- and his most frequent costar in subsequent productions. Those later Paul Hogan vehicles failed to match the popularity of Crocodile Dundee, but included Crocodile Dundee II, Lightning Jack, and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Hogan and Kozlowski divorced in 2014.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- After working in bridge construction, began his entertainment career as a tap-dancing knife thrower on a TV talent contest.
- Found fame in his native Australia in the 1970s with a weekly TV sketch-comedy series, The Paul Hogan Show.
- While known in Australia for his wide range of characterizations, in the U.S. he is, ironically, pigeonholed as the rugged Outback action hero of his blockbuster film "Crocodile" Dundee (1986), a fish-out-of-water comedy that he cowrote.
- Starred in Australian tourism ads to introduce himself to American audiences prior to the release of "Crocodile" Dundee.
- Married to his "Crocodile" Dundee costar Linda Kozlowski, having ended his first marriage after meeting her; and cast her in the two Dundee sequels and most of his subsequent, less-successful films.
- In 1987, cohosted the 59th Annual Academy Awards, sharing emcee duties with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.