Rolf Harris Stripped of Australian Honors
Disgraced entertainer and musician Rolf Harris has been stripped of his two most prestigious honors from his homeland.
Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove has "terminated" Harris' appointments of Officer and Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division, in light of the artist's incarceration on underage sex offenses.
The Governor-General can cancel an honor if it's decided the recipient has "behaved or acted in a matter that has brought disrepute to the Order," or if they've been convicted for a crime. Harris meets both sets of criteria. He was jailed last year after being charged with 12 indecent assaults of four school girls as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up to investigate the Jimmy Saville sex scandal.
The shamed star, who was born in Perth, Western Australia but has lived in Britain for more than 40 years, was sentenced to five years and nine months in a U.K. jail.
Harris had initially received an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in 2012 for "distinguished service to the performing and visual arts, to charitable organisations and to international relations through the promotion of Australian culture", and in 1989 was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for "service to the community as an entertainer."
Over his career, the former TV star had accumulated an impressive collection of accolades and awards. He also enjoyed a string of chart hits including a U.K. No. 1 with "Two Little Boys" (Columbia), which has the distinction of being the very last chart-topper in Britain in the '60s. "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 in Britain. He also had a U.K. No. 3 hit with "Sun Arise" in 1962. Three decades later, he enjoyed another U.K. top 10, when his cover of "Stairway to Heaven," a spin-off from the Australian TV show "Money or the Gun," reached No. 7 in 1993. In 2005, Harris was commissioned to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for her 80th birthday.
If and when the 84-year-old does become a free man, he'll find his cupboard is bare. Almost immediately after he was jailed, Harris was removed from the list of Australia's National Living Treasures, ARIA retracted his induction into the trade body's Hall of Fame and he lost his British BAFTA Fellowship and his honorary degree from the University of East London.