5 October 2010

Norman Wisdom – Chaplin’s Favourite Clown - Dies at 95

Some of my favourite film and TV memories of my childhood were the films of Norman Wisdom, who died yesterday at the age of 95. They inevitably followed the character (or perhaps alter ego is a better word) of Norman Pitkin and were shown on Saturday mornings in the years before children’s weekend morning television was taken seriously in the UK. As such a Norman Wisdom film was always a treat.

The bulk of Norman Wisdom’s reputation has always rested on this series of comedy films, made from the late fifties up to 1966. However in later life Norman diversified and he moved on to a career on Broadway. Notably, however, he won great acclaim for playing the role of a dying cancer patient in the TV play Going Gently which was filmed in the early eighties.

When Wisdom was in the army he met the Prime Minister of the UK several times. Due to his lowly rank he found himself disciplined for referring to the PM as Winnie.

He was a huge star in Albania where his were the only western films allowed under the dictatorship of Hoxha. He would be mobbed every time he visited the country. His clownish antics certainly had a universality – even if they were perhaps of the time – Charlie Chaplin once referred to him as my favourite clown.

If you are from other than the UK or Albania you may not be fully aware of Wisdom's comic talent, so here are a few trailers from his films.

Wisdom retired a few years ago, in declining health, but leaving behind him a huge archive of belly laughs and excruciatingly comic moments. Thank you Norman for all those laughs.RIP.

Norman Wisdom është i vdekur