Disgraced Australian entertainer Rolf Harris dies, age 93

May 24, 2023
Harris' death certificate listed the date of his death as Wednesday, May 10 as a result of neck cancer. Source: Getty Images.

Following months of widespread speculation regarding his declining health, disgraced Australian entertainer Rolf Harris has passed away at the age of 93.

Harris had neck cancer and had been receiving around-the-clock care leading up to his death, which was confirmed by his family via a written statement.

“This is to confirm that Rolf Harris recently died peacefully surrounded by family and friends and has now been laid to rest,” the statement read.

“They ask that you respect their privacy. No further comment will be made.”

His death certificate from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead listed the date of his death as Wednesday, May 10 and the cause of death listed as metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of neck (neck cancer) and “fragility of old age”.

Born on March 30, 1930, in Perth, Western Australia, Harris achieved success as a painter and entertainer, gaining fame for his musical talent and unique artistic style. He became a household name in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, hosting various television programs, including The Rolf Harris Show and Rolf on Saturday OK!

His career reached its pinnacle with the release of his song Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in the 1960s, which became an international hit. He continued to produce chart-topping singles and albums, showcasing his musical talents. His creative abilities also extended to other artistic mediums, as he also became known for his skill as a didgeridoo player.

Harris famously painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 for her 80th birthday as part of his BBC show Rolf on Art and at the height of his career received numerous awards and honours.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1968, and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), which he was later advanced to Officer (AO) in 2012.

However, his career achievements were quickly tarnished following a series of controversies and legal troubles. In 2014, he was convicted of a string of indecent assaults against underage girls, which spanned several decades.

He was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail with Justice Nigel Sweeney telling the ex-entertainer that he had “no one to blame” but himself.

“You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all,” Sweeney said as he handed down the sentence.

“Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no-one to blame but yourself.”

Harris was later released in May 2017 on parole.

The revelation of his crimes shocked the public. The trial and conviction of Harris had a significant impact on his reputation and resulted in several honours he had received throughout his career being stripped away.

Harris is survived by his wife Alwen Hughes and his daughter Bindi.

DISCLAIMER: If you are concerned about violence or misconduct impacting you, your family, friends or workplace, the numbers below may help. National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service — 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia — 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia — 1300 364 277, BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800; Lifeline Australia — 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.

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