ROLF HARRIS, the Australian-born artist and musician who enjoyed a 50-year career as one of Britain’s most beloved TV performers, has passed away at the age of 93. However, his legacy is forever tarnished by his convictions for sexual assaults on children, which led to his imprisonment.
In October 2022, reports emerged that Harris had been battling neck cancer, which had severely affected his ability to speak.
Harris’s reputation was irreparably shattered when he was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail in 2014 for committing 12 indecent assaults on four young women and girls between 1968 and 1986 (although one conviction was later overturned). During his sentencing, Mr Justice Sweeney stated, “Your reputation now lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honors, but you have no one to blame but yourself.”
After serving time, Harris was released on parole in 2017. Prior to his release, he was acquitted of three additional charges, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on four others. A subsequent trial ended with the jury once again unable to reach a verdict on three of the remaining charges, and no further retrial took place.
Before his arrest in 2013, Harris had enjoyed a flourishing career in the United Kingdom since his arrival from Australia in 1952. He made his debut appearance on the BBC in 1953 and gained immense popularity with his shows catering to both children and adults from the late 1960s onwards. His contributions were recognized with appointments as MBE in 1968, OBE in 1977, and CBE in 2006. In 2012, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, just a year before his arrest.
Harris also achieved remarkable success with novelty songs like “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” “Two Little Boys,” and an unconventional rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Despite his controversies, he even graced the stage at Glastonbury in 2010 at the age of 80.
Thanks to his television work, Harris became a household name in Britain. In 2005, he was even commissioned to paint an official portrait of the Queen, showcasing his prowess as an artist.
Though his passing marks the end of a long and influential career, Rolf Harris’s legacy will forever be overshadowed by the disgrace of his criminal convictions.