16 July, 2020
VALE KEN SHADIE
A tribute by the Australian Writers' Guild and Paul Hogan
"Ken Shadie was a comedy producer’s dream. A brief to Ken was ‘I need two sketches next week’, and in nine years he never failed to deliver funny, topical gems." So said Paul Hogan, his co-nominee for an Academy Award for best screenplay (Crocodile Dundee) upon Ken’s recent death at the age of 84.
Starting in radio (2UE) on the technical side, Ken moved to television (Channel 7), where he was probably best known as Head Writer of the iconic Mavis Bramston Show which ran from 1964 to 1968. His other writing credits included My Name’s McGooley, What’s Yours (1967), and Snake Gully with Dad and Dave (1972).
A foundation member of the AWG, Ken set himself up as a freelance writer in 1973, later joining Paul Hogan and John Cornell to write for The Paul Hogan Show specials for Channel 9 and Paul Hogan’s England for London Weekend Television.
But Crocodile Dundee will remain Ken’s most enduring credit, with lines like "The funnel-web spider can kill a man in eight seconds, just by lookin’ at him" up there with "That’s not a knife: this is a knife" as Australian comedy’s most quoted lines.
Ken received a BAFTA nomination alongside his Oscar nomination for his work with Paul Hogan and was honoured by the Australian Writers' Guild for his Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy in 1988.
"Ken was a soft-spoken, laid-back gentleman with a brilliant sense of humour," said Paul Hogan this week from LA, "a class act and a good mate."
He will be missed but not forgotten.