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Veteran actor Norman Wisdom dies

The veteran entertainer passed away at a nursing home on the Isle of Man on Monday (04Oct10).

A statement from the care facility reads, “Over the past six months Sir Norman has sustained a series of strokes causing a general decline in both his mental and physical health.

“He had maintained a degree of independence up until a few days ago… (when) his condition rapidly declined. He was in no pain or distress and peacefully passed away at 18.40 this evening.”

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Born in 1915, Wisdom made his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31 on the West End stage in London.

He moved into comedy and earned himself a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Film in 1954 for his turn in Trouble in Store.

He had an ongoing partnership with the Rank Organisation in the 1950s and 1960s and became famous for his clumsy, childlike character Norman Pitkin in films like On The Beat and The Square Peg.

Moving to the U.S. in 1966, he received a Tony Award nomination for his stint on Broadway in musical comedy Walking Happy. He returned to Britain in the late 1960s after his wife, Freda Simpson, left him.

He took time out of the spotlight but won critical acclaim in 1981 for his role as a dying cancer patient in the television play Going Gently, and he became a household name once again in Britain in the mid-1990s when he briefly joined the cast of beloved TV comedy Last of the Summer Wine.

He received a knighthood in 2000.

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Wisdom suffered a health scare in 2006 when he suffered an irregular heart rhythm and was fitted with a pacemaker, but he continued to work as an actor, and won critical acclaim for his role in 2007 short film Expresso.

He retired to Abbotswood nursing home in the Isle of Man later that year and allowed himself to be filmed for Wonderland: The Secret Life Of Norman Wisdom Aged 92 and 3/4 – a documentary highlighting the dilemma of coping with an ageing parent.

As well as his many honours, Wisdom was the official national comedy hero of Albania.

He is survived by his son Nicholas and daughter Jacqueline from his marriage to Simpson.

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