Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Britain is no longer a country for Norman Wisdom
Britain says "Goodbye" to Norman Wisdom.
Like all baby boomers, I grew up in the 1950's and the days were grey. These were the years of Post-War austerity. There wasn't much prosperity and entertainment at home consisted of programmes by the BBC on the radio. The weekly visit to the cinema on a friday night was something we kids looked forward too. It was magic : soft, comfortable seats, warmth, the 'B' film, Pathe News, Adverts, the main film and a choc ice.
I have fond memories of those nights in that gentler, less wealthy age and Norman Wisdom is part of my nostalgia.
What I didn't know about Norman was that he :
* was born to a chauffeur father and a dressmaker maker mother in Marylebone, London, in 1915.
* spent time in a children’s home, aged nine, when his parents split up.
* ran away and became an 'errand boy', before walking and hitching to Cardiff to become a cabin boy in the Merchant Navy.
* later joined the Army, honed his talent for entertaining and learnt to play 11 instruments.
* was a champion boxer during his time in the Army.
* during World War II, worked in communications, connecting telephone calls to Winston Churchill.
* co-wrote Vera Lynn classic song :'There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover'.
* got his showbiz break in 1945, performing in 'The Successful Failure' as a clown character which would be typical of the character which would become his trademark.
* had a fan in Charlie Chaplin who told him in 1950: “You will follow in my footsteps.”
* made his film debut three years later and went on to star in 19 films.
* was a cult figure in Communist Albania which banned all films from the West except his
* was given freedom of the city of Tirana and had an orphanage named after his cinematic alter ego, Norman Pitkin.
* was mobbed on holiday in Moscow in 1963.
* was, in the early 1970s, personally invited by Mao on a month-long tour of China.
* on tv, made 4 series of 'A Little Bit Of Wisdom', before displaying his straight acting talents in 1981 BBC play 'Going Gently', about a dying cancer patient. In later years he was a regular in 'Last of the Summer Wine'.
* In 2000 he was awarded a knighthood and tripped as he left the ceremony, reportedly to the amusement of the Queen.
* said: "My comedy is for children from three to 93. You do need a slightly childish sense of humour and if you haven't got that, it's very sad."
His films :
A Date with a Dream (1948)
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)
There Was a Crooked Man (1960)
The Bulldog Breed (1960)
On the Beat (1962)
The Girl on the Boat (1962)
A Stitch in Time (1963)
The Early Bird (1965)
The Sandwich Man (1966)
Press for Time (1966)
Biography Part 1
Biography Part 2 :
Biography Part 3 :