Sir Norman Wisdom, one of the most talented comedy actors from the slapstick era has passed away at the age of 95 at his home on the Isle of Man. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, after a series of recent strokes.
Once referred to by the great Charlie Chaplin as the only man in movies who could replace him, Norman, like Charlie, also had a humble start in life in London.
Norman will always be remembered for playing the role of a downtrodden little man, who always wore a tweed cap, sideways and with the peak turned up. He also wore ill fitting clothes, with his jacket being too tight, his trousers hardly any better, a crumpled collar and scruffy tie.
Norman Wisdom had an interesting start in life, born in the Borough of Marylebone in Central London. His father was a chauffeur and his mother a dressmaker. They split up when Norman was nine years old and he ended up in a children’s home.
He ran away from the home, becoming an errand boy for Lipton’s tea, and sometimes he had to steal just to get enough to eat.
At the age of 13 he walked all the way to Cardiff so that he could join the Merchant Navy, and became a cabin boy on a merchant ship. and here he learned the skills necessary to be a fighter, which led to him later becoming a boxing champion for the Army.
It was in the army that Norman found that he could entertain people by falling over and with his unique comic style, and he was spotted performing at a charity concert by actor Rex Harrison, who persuaded Norman to become a professional actor.
One of his best loved roles was in the Rank Organisation films, where Norman played opposite straight man Edward Chapman (Mr Grimsdale).
His agent, Johnny Mans said that “Norman loved life, he loved people, and people loved him”.
Norman Wisdom was knighted by the Queen in 2000.
Norman Wisdom Trivia
Sir Norman became the national comedy hero in communist-run Albania, where his were the only Western films allowed in the country.
Norman Wisdom wrote the lyrics to Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime hit (There’ll be Bluebirds) Over the White Cliffs of Dover.
Sir Norman released an album with musician Rick Wakeman, titled “A World of Wisdom” in 1991.
Since many readers of this article will have probably never heard of Norman Wisdom, here is a clip from one of his movies, where he is in the army and having Bayonnet Practice.
The Daily Mirror
Sir Norman Wisdom Biography (IMDB)