Friday, 5 February 2010

Yesterday, Britain said "Happy Birthday" to a remarkable old man called Sir Norman Wisdom

Norman Wisdom was born 95 years ago in the Marylebone district of London. Baby boomers like me will remember him for his films in the 1950's where he wore a tweed flat cap askew, with peak turned up, a suit at least two sizes too tight and a crumpled collar and a mangled tie.

The 'Rank Organisation' turned out the films :

Trouble in Store (1953)
One Good Turn (1954)
As Long as They're Happy (1955)
Man of the Moment (1955)
Up in the World (1956)
Just My Luck (1957)
The Square Peg (1958)
Follow a Star (1959)

Few people will know that :

* He went to a children's home in Deal, Kent.

* He ran away when he was 11, then returned and when he left school at 13, became an errand boy with a grocery store.

* He walked to Cardiff, where he became a cabin boy in the Merchant Navy.

* He also worked as a coal-miner, waiter and pageboy.

* He enlisted as a drummer boy in the '10th Royal Hussars' of the British Army and in 1930 was posted to Lucknow in India as a bandsman.

* He gained an education certificate, rode horses and was the 'Flyweight Boxing Champion' of the British Army in India.

* He learned to play the trumpet and clarinet.* While performing a comedy boxing routine in an army gym, discovered he had a talent for entertainment and began to develop his skills as a musician and stage entertainer.

* After leaving the army he worked as a private hire car driver and having improved his diction in the army, also took a job as a night telephone operator.

* At the outbreak of World War II, was sent to work in a communications centre in a command bunker in London, where he connected telephone calls from war leaders to Prime Minister Churchill.

* When he left the Army in 1946, made his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31 and was a West End star within two years.

* His film career started in 1949.

This takes us back into that smaller, gentler world of the 1950's where I have my 'heimat' :

'Trouble in Store' from 1953 :

'The Square Peg' from 1958 :

'A Stitch in Time' from 1963 :

His biography :

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