Last night, show business in the United Kingdom mourned comedian Ernie Wise, who died after a major heart procedure.
The 73-year-old actor, who was known for his comedy duo with Eric Morecambe, died earlier in hospital, according to his widow Doreen. In January, he underwent a triple bypass operation in Florida, but he returned to the UK this month.
“We’ve had ups and downs for quite a while, but he’s finally gone,” Ms Doreen Wise said of her husband.
Other celebrities paid tribute, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, was stated to be “extremely grieved” by the news.
Des O’Connor, an entertainer and long-time friend of Eric and Ernie, said: “At the very least, they are finally together. ‘You’re late again,’ Eric will reply, knowing Eric.
Mr. Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, stated: “Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe created some of the best comedy ever seen on British television, and millions of people laughed and enjoyed it.
“It’s a testament to their work that it’s still as popular today as it was when it first aired.”
Mr Wise became ill days after celebrating his birthday in November at his vacation home in Boca Raton, Florida’s east coast. With his passing, undoubtedly Britain’s greatest and best-loved comedy combo has come to an end.
Ernie, the man with the infamous “short, fat, hairy legs,” made a career out of making his colleague Eric Morecambe laugh.
For four decades, “Little Ern” was the target of a comic genius and the brunt of a slew of widely publicized gags, not least his “toupee,” about which Eric would frequently remark, “You can’t see the join.”
Ernie, on the other hand, adored schoolboy humour, as did the general public, who laughed along with them year after year.
Eric and Ern set out to be the world’s top duo act. They were undoubtedly one of the most well-known, bringing joy and happiness to millions of people.
Their Christmas specials have become television classics, as well as a staple of the holiday season, like Queen Elizabeth’s speech.
Ernie acknowledged that he was “number two” in the performance, claiming that Eric was the “show” and he was the “business.”
Eric’s death from a heart attack in May 1984 left a void in both British humor and Ernie’s life. Ernie started his own business and received a lot of work, but the magic formula was no longer there.
Ernest Wiseman was born in Leeds in November 1925. Ernie was the eldest of five children who lived in a tiny railway house in Wakefield, the son of a railway porter. He began his career alongside his father Harry in a song and dance performance when he was seven years old.
He dropped out of school at the age of 13 and teamed up with Eric in a play called Youth Takes A Bow in Swansea when he was 16. They began as a clog-dancer named Wiseman and a hilarious youngster named Bartholomew with a lollipop. The names Wiseman and Bartholomew were too long to fit on the billboards, so they were shortened to Morecambe and Wise. The collaboration was supposed to last 43 years.
During the Blitz, the two came up with the idea for their double act during a train journey from Birmingham to Coventry. They were separated during the war, yet they came back stronger than ever.
OBEs were among the honors bestowed on them in 1976, and they were listed in Who’s Who and have waxworks in Madam Tussauds.
After growing up with very little, Ernie was always cautious with his money and never took a good bank account for granted.
His only vices were dining out and driving a Rolls Royce.
In 1985, he realized a long-held desire by starring in a Hollywood sitcom.
In May 1987, he debuted in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, his first West End musical, but it closed after only eight weeks.
He flew around the world in 80 hours to collect money for the Corda heart charity in October 1989. He claimed he never wanted to stop working, but due to ill health, he retired from show business at the age of 70.
“Once I had the first stroke, I realized I was finished,” he remarked at the time.
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