John Clarke, satirist of Australian politics, dead at 68

john clarke
New Zealand-born satirist of Australian politics John Clarke has died at 68. (Youtube/ClarkeandDawe)

New Zealand-born satirist and actor John Clarke has died aged 68.

The comedian, who moved to Australia in the 1970s and became a major TV star in his adopted country, passed away from natural causes on Sunday while on a hiking trip in Australia's Grampians National Park.

"John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends. He is forever in our hearts," his family said in a statement issued by Australian TV network ABC.

Until 2012, John was a regular on ABC's current affairs show "The 7.30 Report," impersonating prominent public figures in mock interviews.

The family's statement continued, "We are aware of what he has meant to so many for so many years, throughout the world but especially in Australia and New Zealand. We are very grateful for all expressions of sympathy and love which John would have greatly appreciated."

After beginning his career on Australian TV, John also earned acclaim as a screenwriter, penning the 1982 film "Lonely Hearts." He also starred alongside fellow New Zealander Sam Neil in the 1990 World War II movie "Blood Oath," released in some countries as "Prisoners of the Sun." The film also marked Russell Crowe's screen debut.

Perhaps his most critically praised work was the TV comedy "The Games," a mockumentary he starred in and co-wrote satirizing preparations for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. His other small screen roles including him starring in Australian TV shows "Kath and Kim" and "The Adventures of Lano and Woodley."

Among those who paid tribute to the comedian after his death were New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In a statement on Facebook, Australia's leader said the funnyman's satire "made our democracy richer and stronger."

John is survived by his two daughters, Loren and Lucia, son-in-law Stewart and two grandchildren, Claudia and Charles.

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