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Rod Hull

Rodney Stephen Hull born on 13th. August 1935 was a British comedian and popular entertainer on television in the 1970s and 1980s. He rarely appeared without Emu, a mute and highly aggressive arm-length puppet modelled on the Australian bird. His first UK television appearance came on the ITV show Saturday Variety, but it was his appearance in the 1972 Royal Variety Performance that provided his springboard to national recognition.  Hull used Emu to create a kind of gleeful havoc, while not accepting blame for it. The simple, effective conceit of a false arm attached to Hull's jacket, which cradled the emu, made it appear that the neck and head moved of its own volition.

Rod Hull and Emu
Rod Hull and Emu

This apparently independent movement gave the illusion that the bird had its own personality, which entailed sudden, unprovoked, and often violent attacks on anyone and anything that came too close. During these events Hull would make half-hearted attempts to pull the bird away from its victim but would often become embroiled in the fracas, rolling around on the floor, creating theatrical mayhem. More common was Hull's physical assault of people and things using Emu. In 1972, Hull destroyed The Queen Mother's bouquet of flowers during the after-show line-up at the aforementioned Royal Variety Performance after which he appeared in many other shows.

During 1976 Hull made his most famous appearances when Hull's Emu repeatedly attacked Michael Parkinson during his eponymous chat show, eventually causing the interviewer to fall off his chair. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1982 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Thames Television's Euston Road Studios. In 1983 he published a book of poetry. Also in 1983 he appeared in the US on The Tonight Show, attacking host Johnny Carson, even after he was told not to by the producers, and Richard Pryor in one of the comedian's first public appearances after undergoing major emergency reconstructive surgery on his face.

Rod Hull on Parkinson
Michael Parkinson and Emu

Hull married his first wife Sandra in 1958; they had two daughters, Deborah and Danielle. In the late 1980s Hull bought Restoration House in Rochester for £270,000 but the cost of renovations and an unpaid tax bill resulted in bankruptcy in 1994. Hull's second wife, Cher Hylton-Hull, already had a daughter, Catrina, and the couple had three children together: Toby, Amelia, and Oliver. Catrina appeared in his Pink Windmill show. Cher, who had been instrumental in his success, moved to her home country of Australia with the children while Hull remained in England and relocated to a shepherd's cottage in East Sussex.

On the night of 17th. March 1999, Hull was trying to adjust the television aerial on the roof of his bungalow at half-time during an Inter Milan vs. Manchester United Champions League match, when he slipped and fell through an adjoining greenhouse. He suffered a severe skull fracture and chest injuries, and was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital in Hastings, aged 63. Following an inquest, the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death on 17 March 1999.

Rod Hull and Emu
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