Born in Mackay, Queensland, on 26 August 1951, Delvene Delaney found stardom as “the sheila” on The Paul Hogan Show in the 1970s.
As a teen she had been a photographer’s assistant, then a Brisbane TV weather girl, a nanny-cum-cashier-cum-choreographer on a cruise ship, and even a Playboy bunny in London.
Back home in Australia, she made her TV acting debut on The Box before winning Photographic Model of the Year, prompting Paul Hogan’s sidekick and business partner John Cornell to approach her in a bar and ask if she would like to be on the Hogan Show.
It was 1975 and Hogan had featured a string of guest “sheilas”, but Delvene could play anything from a 16-year-old girl to an 80-year-old-woman, was the right height, and had the right – shall we say – proportions . . . so she became the regular sheila.
Delvene’s voluptuous curves provided a constant punchline on the show and became something of a national obsession. But she avoided the bimbo tag, thanks to Hogan and Cornell’s writing.
Delvene married co-star John Cornell on New Years’ Eve 1977, eventually leaving The Paul Hogan Show to have her first baby.
She next played nurse Jo-Jo Adams for six months on The Young Doctors, guest starred on The Love Boat, and in 1983, she succeeded Victoria Nicolls as Tony Barber’s co-host on the popular game show Sale of the Century.
She was popular in the role, and when she finally quit after three years, it shocked fans and the TV industry.
Since turning her back on television, Delaney dedicated her life to Cornell and their children – Allira and Liana – and her step-daughter Melissa.
She and Cornell have lived for many years in a palatial home on a property just outside Byron Bay in NSW, along with her parents, friends and relatives.
In 1990, Cornell and Delvene built the Beach Hotel at Byron Bay for $9 million. The ‘Beachie’ became the town’s most well-known and successful pub and entertainment venue.
They sold in 2007 for a record price of $65 million.