1. Read spent the first five years of his life in a children’s home, and was made a ward of the state by the age of 14
Read says he was certified mentally insane three times - at ages 15, 19 and 23, and that he was given “60 serves of shock treatment in six months”.
2. Read earned his reputation as a hard man first by ripping off drug dealers in Melbourne, then making his living kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld
3. Read spent only 13 months outside prison between the ages of 20 and 38
He served time after being convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, arson, impersonating a police officer, assault and attempted murder. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail for attempting to kidnap a County Court judge at gunpoint.
4. In the late 1970s, Read had a fellow prisoner cut his ears off, in order to get out of Pentridge Prison’s H division
5. Read was already known as ‘Chopper’ - the name came from the cartoon bulldog in the show Yakky Doodle
6. Read lost several feet of intestines after being stabbed by fellow inmates and longtime friends Jimmy Loughnan and Ned Clonan
(GIF via an anti-drink driving ad Chopper did)
7. In his books Read claims to have been involved in the killing of 19 people and the attempted murder of 11 others
He has recently downgraded this to “about four or seven”. He has also said he would “never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn”.
8. Read has sold more than 500,000 copies of his ‘Chopper’ books and has also written a ‘kids’ book for adults’ called Hooky the Cripple
10. Eric Bana launched his Hollywood career after playing Read in the 2000 film Chopper
11. Read contracted Hepatitis C during his time in prison, he says through using a blood-stained shaver
12. In 2009 he revealed he needed a liver transplant, but would not accept one if offered
“I’m not going to ask for a liver transplant, it’s not fair. I’m 55 years old; I’m not going to put my name down against some 10-year-old kid.”
13. In September 2013, Read was admitted to hospital and then palliative care.
He died on October 9, 2013.