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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March 2005, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
The many talents of Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris
Australian Rolf Harris has been on TV for more than 50 years
Rolf Harris, who is celebrating his 75th birthday, has spent more than five decades on British TV, establishing himself as one of the small screen's most versatile and recognisable personalities.

Although he is first and foremost an artist, Harris is also renowned for his work as a TV presenter and his musical skills.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Harris trained at City and Guilds Arts School in Kennington, London, in the early 50s.

It was here, while being taught by Australian artist Hayward Veal, that he began to develop his characteristic style of art, which saw him creating pictures across large surfaces.

Before long he had brought those talents to TV, most notably on the show Playbox, which ran from 1955-1964 and also featured the likes of Eamonn Andrews, Tony Hart and Johnny Morris.

Hit singles

In the 60s, he finally got the chance to headline his own programme, The Rolf Harris Show, which made its debut in 1967 and ran for seven years.
Rolf Harris on TV in 1963
Harris' first series for the BBC was A Swingin' Time in 1963

It was here that he made his mark with his famous "can you guess what it is yet?" catchphrase, in which he would invite viewers to deduce what he was painting.

But it wasn't just his art which was attracting attention. He also scored a string of hit singles, starting off wth Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 1960.

He hit the top three two years later with Sun Arise, and eventually topped the charts with Two Little Boys in 1969.

The late 70s and 80s saw a brief revival of The Rolf Harris Show, and also saw him fronting Cartoon Time and Rolf's Cartoon Club on ITV, which ran for six series.

In the 90s, he found himself appealing to a whole new generation of fans after appearing on Channel 4's late-night show The Word. Soon after he had another top ten hit with his cover version of Stairway to Heaven.

Animal shows

In 1992, Harris was feted when 1,000 people visiting an art exhibition in London were asked to name a famous artist. Of those questioned, 38% said Harris, putting him well ahead of runner-up John Constable.
Rolf Harris on Animal Hospital
Harris was one of the presenters of the award-winning Animal Hospital

More recently, Harris has become known for fronting animal-themed shows, kicking off with BBC One's Animal Hospital in 1994. The show won the most popular factual entertainment show at the National Television Awards six times.

Harris has also presented a number of spin-offs including Animal Hospital Down Under and Animal Hospital From Oz, as well as Rolf's Amazing World of Animals and the interactive series Test Your Pet.

Away from the celebrity spotlight, he has been married to Alwen, who he met while at art school, since 1958 and has one daughter, Bindi.

It seems an artistic streak runs in the family - Alwen is a sculptress and jeweller, while Bindi studied Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic and is now a painter.


SEE ALSO
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Rolf leads TV Constable 'draw-in'
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Rolf Harris puts pets to the test
30 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
Rolf's animal series to end
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01 Aug 03 |  Entertainment

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