Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Science | By Carlton Santiago

Fred Dagg actor John Clarke dies

Fred Dagg actor John Clarke dies

The Kiwi comic, who frequented Australian TV screens on a weekly basis, starred in several Aussie films and is beloved in his native New Zealand for creating the iconic gumboot-and-black-singlet-wearing Fred Dagg.

The New Zealander, who lived in Australia since the late 1970s, was best known for his spoof interviews with Bryan Dawe, reminiscent of the officious exchanges originated by Britain's Bird and Fortune.

He also wrote a screenplay, The Man Who Sued God, which was turned into a feature film starring Scottish comedian Billy Connolly in 2002.

The death of John Clarke has devastated his friend and long-time collaborator Bryan Dawe.

The New Zealand Herald wrote today that Dagg, "captured the essence of New Zealand in the 1970s, and let us laugh at ourselves".

He died of natural causes while on a hike in the Grampians National Park, Victoria. Thirty years after its release, the first Fred Dagg album, Fred Dagg's Greatest Hits (1976), remains one of New Zealand's biggest selling records. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Clarke's "laconic wit was rarely wide of the mark".

Most Australians will know him well from "Clarke and Dawe", whose segments on shows like The 7:30 Report were fan favourites on the national broadcaster. "When I left secondary school I knew roughly what I knew when I left primary school plus how to shave", Clarke said.

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Social media has been flooded with tributes since news of Clarke's passing broke on Monday.

John Clarke was the first person I remember being described as having a "dry wit".

It was John Clarke.

That interview celebrated the dynamic duo's 20 straight years of their beloved weekly sketch - where Dawe played the flummoxed journalist who "interviews" Clarke's insane political figures. I rang him to ask permission.

John Clarke hosts The Sounds of Aus on the ABC. Nonetheless I salute you for inspiring me to make people laugh, and although I am clearly yet to succeed you will forever be my muse. All of us at ABC News and across the ABC are shocked.

John Clarke as Fred Dagg.

"Hugely influential to me and my mates, he was one of the fathers of NZ's style of comedy".

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