Norman Hetherington is best known as the man behind one of Australia’s most loved television characters, Mr Squiggle, but it was his service during the Second World War that first brought his drawings off the page and onto the stage.
For generations, “the man from the moon” was one of Australia’s most famous faces. With his fuzzy blue hair, wide child-like eyes, and signature pencil nose, Mr Squiggle delighted children and adults alike as he rocketed into the ABC studios, creating a sense of fun and wonder with his inquisitive nature and whimsical sketches.
Hetherington’s premise for Mr Squiggle was simple: children would send in their “squiggles” and Mr Squiggle would complete them, turning them into something recognisable by connecting the lines with his pencil nose. More often than not his sketches were penned upside down; when the drawing was finished he would cry, “Upside down! Upside down!” and his assistant would rotate the work to reveal the finished picture.
But before he made his name on television, Norman Hetherington served as a corporal during the Second World War.
“My father, like many people, didn’t like to talk about the war,” said his daughter, Rebecca Hetherington.
“When I was quite young, we were going through the attic space in our roof, and there were these numbers and letters written on a box. When I asked, ‘What’s that?’ he said, ‘That’s my infantry number,’ and I said, ‘When were you called up?’ And the look on his face. He turned to me and he said, ‘I was not called up, I enlisted.’ And that was really important to him.”