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Rolf Harris: Convicted pedophile and family entertainer dies

The Australian-born television star rose to fame in the United Kingdom, but he lived his final years in disgrace after he was convicted of sexually assaulting multiple young girls

Deutsche Welle Published 24.05.23, 01:55 PM
Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris Deutsche Welle

Convicted pedophile Rolf Harris, who was a mainstay of British and Australian family entertainment for more than 50 years before his career ended in disgrace, has died aged 93.

The Australian-born Harris died peacefully surrounded by relatives and friends, his family said in a statement on Tuesday.


The statement said he "has now been laid to rest" and added that "no further comment will be made."

His death certficate showed that he died on May 10 of "metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of neck" and "frailty of old age."

From stardom to prison

Harris got his start on British television in 1958 and went on to become one of the country's most beloved light entertainers, as well as in his home country of Australia.

He was known for hosting shows such as "Rolf's Cartoon Club" and "Animal Hospital," writing hit songs like "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," and inventing a novelty musical instrument called the wobble board.

In 1985, Harris hosted a short educational film called "Kids Can Say No!" designed to educate children aged between five and eight about how to avoid situations where they might be sexually abused.

In 2014, he was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault on four young girls between 1969 and 1986.

Prosecutors said the television star had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality who used his fame to exploit his victims.

Harris maintained his innocence and was supported by family and friends throughout the trial.

The entertainer was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison. He was released after serving three years.

The conviction prompted widespread revulsion and soul-searching in the UK and Australia. Harris was removed from the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame and was stripped of his CBE — a British honor one step below a knighthood.

Harris was convicted as part of Operation Yewtree, the British police investigation which posthumously revealed children's entertainer Jimmy Saville to be a prolific child abuser and resulted in the conviction of glam rocker Gary Glitter.

Failing health

Harris lived his final years in disgrace away from the limelight.

In October 2022, it was reported that Harris was "gravely ill" with neck cancer that left him unable to speak and requiring 24-hour care.

Ahead of his secret funeral, British newspapers reported that a private ambulance with blacked-out windows was spotted outside his home west of London.

Such vehicles are typically used by undertakers.

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