TV veteran Delvene Delaney and her late husband John “Strop” Cornell had a love story for the ages.
The couple were married for 45 years after Cornell’s sidekick and famed actor Paul Hogan decided Delaney was his perfect match. “He’s so lucky to have you. You’re his guardian angel,” Hogan told Delaney during a recent podcast episode of Evenin’ Viewers.
She simply replied, “I love him.”
They welcomed two children together, Liana Cornell and Allira Cornell. Cornell also had a daughter, Melissa Cornell, from a previous marriage.
Sadly, the film and TV icon died this morning after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 80.
“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. A true egalitarian, John sought equity and equality, and fought for a fair go,” his family said in a statement.
While Cornell is remembered for his indelible mark on the TV and sporting industry, he was also lucky enough to spend his life with the woman of his dreams.
We take a trip down memory lane at some of the couple’s sweetest memories.
1970: Cornell produces the comedy special The Paul Hogan Show. It’s the start of a long working relationship and friendship with Hogan, lasting more than 16 years.
Delaney appears in several sketches and Cornell plays the charming and goofy “strop”. It’s on the comedy special where Hogan introduces Cornell to the love of his life.
1976: Hogan and Cornell arrive in Sydney after touring the US together. In the States, they tape a television special titled Paul Hogan Pays Back Glen Campbell.
Delaney welcomes her partner at Sydney airport and plants a kiss on his cheek. She co-starred in the TV special.
Her career skyrockets as she became a panel member on the game show Blankety Blanks between 1977 to 1979. She then co-presents Sale of the Century from 1982 to 1986.
1978: Cornell marries Delaney in 1978 in a paddock.
“We married on my sister’s property, in secret, with just 11 guests,” Delaney told The Advertiser last year.
“It was a beautiful place, but my sister and her husband were very self-sufficient and were trying to live a simpler lifestyle, so it had no electricity, no running water, and we spent our wedding night in a tent.”
1980: Cornell goes to live with Delaney on a 120-acre farm in Byron Bay, where he bought the Hotel Brunswick.
1984: Hogan and Cornell collaborate on the critically acclaimed Crocodile Dundee film. He also produces and directs the successful 1988 sequel, Crocodile Dundee II.
The film earns the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Hogan wins Best Actor at The Golden Globes.
2001: Cornell is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
2007: Cornell and Delaney sell up the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay for $65 million. Cornell originally had the hotel built for $9 million in 1990.
2012: Cornell, Delaney and Hogan team up once again! The trio are depicted in the drama-mini series titled Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War.
2019: Liana shares a rare photo with her family on Instagram.
“This photo makes my heart so full,” she captions the family shot.
2020: Their longtime friend and colleague Paul Hogan shares some beautiful insight on Cornell’s relationship with Delaney during an episode of his podcast Evenin’ Viewers.
“I’d met Dellie and she was funny and smart and easy going and I thought ‘I can see Corny falling in love with this lady’,” Hogan said.
“And he did, and she did, and he still is — so there you go, I was better at matchmaking for them than I am for myself.”
Meanwhile, Delaney reflects on Cornell’s condition as he lives with Parkinson’s disease.
“He has good days and bad days. On his good days, he’s still got a twinkle in his eye,” she says. “He’s the bravest man I know, he continues to see the bright side of light. He never gets miserable.”
“He’s so lucky to have you. You’re his guardian angel,” Hogan tells Delaney. “I love him,” she replies.
March 2021: Liana honours her father with a beautiful tribute on Instagram for his 80th birthday.
“The gentlest, kindest and most generous man I’ve ever known,” she says on the special occasion.
“You’re a genius in so many ways, always the one with a calming word in my times of extreme pain and trauma. A true feminist. A protector of multitudes. An environmentalist to your core.”