Norman Frederick Hetherington: Creator of Mr. Squiggle and Australian Icon

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Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Norman Frederick Hetherington (29 May 1921 – 6 December 2010) was an Australian artist, teacher, cartoonist (known as “Heth”), puppeteer, and puppet designer.

Life and Career

Norman Hetherington was born on May 29, 1921, in Lilyfield, Sydney, Australia. He showed artistic talent from a young age and pursued his passion for drawing and painting. Hetherington studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, honing his skills as an artist.

Hetherington’s career took a significant turn when he created Mr. Squiggle, a puppet character with a pencil for a nose. Mr. Squiggle made his first appearance on Australian television in 1959, and Hetherington operated the puppet while simultaneously drawing upside-down pictures on a board. The show, titled “Mr. Squiggle and Friends,” quickly gained popularity and became a long-running children’s program in Australia.

Mr. Squiggle’s unique ability to turn seemingly random lines into recognizable drawings captivated children and adults alike. Hetherington’s creativity, humor, and talent for improvisation made the show a beloved and enduring part of Australian television for over 40 years. Norman Hetherington passed away on December 6, 2010, in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 89. His death marked the end of an era for Australian children’s television, but his legacy lived on through his beloved creation, Mr. Squiggle.

Award and Legacy

Throughout his career, Norman Hetherington received several accolades and awards for his contributions to Australian children’s entertainment. In 2000, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to the arts and children’s television.

Hetherington’s legacy is primarily tied to the enduring popularity and impact of Mr. Squiggle. The show entertained and educated generations of Australian children, promoting creativity, imagination, and a love for art. Hetherington’s ability to bring a puppet to life and create art in a whimsical and interactive manner made him an influential figure in children’s television. Mr. Squiggle and Norman Hetherington’s characters continue to hold a special place in the hearts of Australians, even long after the show ended. Hetherington’s unique blend of artistry, storytelling, and puppetry left a lasting impression on Australian popular culture.

Beyond Mr. Squiggle, Hetherington was a talented artist in his own right. His paintings and illustrations showcased his artistic abilities, and his passion for art remained a constant throughout his life. Norman Hetherington’s contributions to children’s entertainment and his ability to inspire and delight generations of young viewers cement his place as a beloved and influential figure in Australian television history. His creation, Mr. Squiggle, remains an iconic character and a cherished part of Australia’s cultural heritage.

On 29 May 2014, Google celebrated Norman Frederick Hetherington’s 93rd Birthday with a doodle.