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Rod Hull and Emu

1935 to 1999

Ben Elton George Formby Stephen Fry Tony Hancock Will Hay Benny Hill Frankie Howard Rod Hull

Rod Hull and his crazy bird Emu were hugely popular on British TV in the 70's and 80's. His crazy bird would attack everybody, and Michael Parkinson was famously attacked on his show. He died after falling off his roof while trying to fix a ariel.

The biography below comes from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Hull

Rod Hull (13 August 1935 - 18 March 1999) was a popular entertainer on British television in the 1970s and 1980s. He rarely appeared without Emu, a mute, highly aggressive arm-length puppet of such a bird. He died in 1999 after falling from the roof of his house, while trying to adjust the TV aerial.

Hull was born in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England in 1935. He spent his early career in Australia, where he worked on a children's breakfast TV programme, The Super Flying Fun Show, and first used Emu as a puppet. Emu became a regular part of Hull's set on cabarets back in the United Kingdom and Australia. Soon after, his Australian success translated to his native country with Hull appearing on several children's and adult light entertainment shows. In the late 1980s Hull bought Restoration House in Rochester, but went bankrupt renovating it. The house was repossessed and he moved to East Sussex.

Hull's puppet represented a side of his personality that enabled the entertainer to create a kind of gleeful havoc, while seemingly being not to blame for it. This was aided by the simple yet effective conceit of a false arm attached to Hull's jacket, which cradled the emu, therefore making it appear that the neck and head moved of its own volition.

Emu goes for Parky.

Emu goes for Parky

It was during the 1970s that Hull and the uncontrollable Emu made their most famous appearances. The bird repeatedly attacked Michael Parkinson during an edition of his eponymous chat show, eventually causing the interviewer to fall off his chair. Fellow guest Billy Connolly threatened, "If that bird comes anywhere near me, I'll break its neck and your bloody arm!". Perhaps mindful of his professional future, Hull swiftly got his "pet" back on best behaviour. In later years, Parkinson always lamented the fact that despite all the star guests he had interviewed during his career, he would always be remembered for "that bloody bird".

There were no apparent boundaries for Emu's outrageous behaviour. In 1972, it ate The Queen Mother's bouquet of flowers at a Royal Variety Performance. During an appearance on The Tonight Show, he even attacked Richard Pryor in one of the comedian's first public appearances after undergoing major emergency reconstructive surgery on his face. However, Hull was careful to tailor the bird's conduct according to his audience, and always ensured that it displayed a friendly demeanour when in the company of children.

Hull and Emu were regulars on the Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, which aired for one season as a Saturday morning kids' show on CBS in 1974.

During the 1980s Hull was a multi-millionaire, thanks to his anarchic puppet, and enjoyed huge success with Emu's World and Emu's All Live Pink Windmill Show. The record viewership for his main show, Emu's Broadcasting Company, was 11 million. However, he later suffered financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1994.

Hull was in the public eye less frequently during the 1990s, appearing in pantomime and television commercials, and winning the 1993 "Pipe Smoker of the Year" award. Nonetheless, his name remained well-known, and comedians Richard Herring and Stewart Lee included a "Rod Hull" character in their 1996 television sketch show, Fist of Fun, played by the actor Kevin Eldon. This character was performed as a grotesque imitation, a character who was finally unmasked by the real Rod Hull, who appeared (minus Emu) in the last episode of the series. It was to be Hull's penultimate television appearance.

A 2003 TV documentary, When Rod Hull Met Emu, revealed that Hull nursed an increasing resentment towards his puppet, believing that the success of the bird prevented him from pursuing other avenues in showbusiness. He saw himself, according to the programme-makers, as a talented performer who could have developed a more varied career in the entertainment industry had he not been forced to repeatedly play the '& Emu' role.

Another very funny piece on Rod Hull can be found here http://www.povonline.com/cols/COL236.htm

 

      Remember-He he who laughs last.....Really didn't get the joke anyway...