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Bruce Forsyth Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (17)  | Personal Quotes (15)

Overview (5)

Born in Edmonton, London, England, UK
Died in Wentworth Estate, Virginia Water, Surrey, England, UK  (bronchial pneumonia)
Birth NameBruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson
Nickname Brucie
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Veteran entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth had a career spanning eight decades, in which he went from struggling variety performer to Saturday night TV stardom. On the way, he became one of the most recognisable entertainers in the business, driven by what appeared to be inexhaustible energy. He became synonymous with the plethora of game shows that seemed to dominate television light entertainment in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, although he often felt he had become typecast as the genial quizmaster. And at an age when most performers would have put their feet up, his career enjoyed a huge revival with the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing (2004). Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson was born in Edmonton, north London, on 22 February 1928. His father owned a local garage and both his parents were Salvation Army members who sang and played music at home.

Bruce was a direct descendant of William Forsyth, a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society, whose name was given to the plant forsythia. His interest in showbusiness was kindled at the age of eight and he was reportedly found tap-dancing on the flat roof after watching his first Fred Astaire film.

He made his stage debut at the age of 14 as Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom, appearing bottom of the bill at the Theatre Royal, Bilston. Live entertainment was a way of escaping the pressures and dangers of wartime Britain, and there was a huge demand for acts, no matter how bad they were.

But there was to be no fast track to success. For the next 16 years he performed in church halls and theatres across the country, sleeping in train luggage racks and waiting for the big break. It came in 1958, at a time when he had been unemployed for more than three months and was seriously considering giving up on showbusiness. He was asked to present Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1955), a televised variety show, made by Lord Grade's ATV company for the ITV network. He'd finally found the fame he had always craved, appearing not in front of a couple of hundred people in a theatre, but the more than 10 million who regularly tuned in to the show.

Originally booked for two weeks, he stayed five years, by which time he was Britain's highest-paid entertainer, earning £1,000 a week (£18,700 in today's money). But he continued touring with his variety show and the strain of combining this with his Palladium appearances took a toll on his private life. He divorced his first wife, Penny Calvert, a dancer he'd met in the theatre, and she wrote an account of her husband's perpetual absence, called Darling, Your Dinner's in the Dustbin. A popular element in his Palladium show was a feature called Beat the Clock, in which contestants, egged on by Forsyth, had to complete quirky tasks as a huge clock ticked down.

The segment gave a hint of his future television role and he went on to host some of the most popular television game shows of the 1970s and 80s. With his catchphrases of "Nice to see you, to see you nice" and "Didn't he do well?" he reigned supreme at the helm of the BBC's Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (1971) for six years from 1971, and again at the beginning of the 1990s. At its peak, the programme attracted 20 million viewers, who tuned in to watch Forsyth seemingly having more fun than the competitors, enthusing over the mundane prizes on the conveyor belt. The presenter argued with his BBC managers about the show's early evening timeslot but he eventually accepted his role as the "warm-up man" for Saturday night television.

His co-host on the show, Anthea Redfern, was each week encouraged to "give us a twirl". The couple married in 1973 but divorced six years later. It was on Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (1971) that he introduced his famous "thinker" pose, appearing in silhouette at the beginning of each show. The idea came from the classic circus strongman pose, something he'd perfected during his days in variety. He repeated his success on ITV's Play Your Cards Right (1980), where the audience joined in the cries of "higher" or "lower" as the contestants tried to guess the value of a series of playing cards.

In 1995, a year after his final Generation Game appearance, he received a lifetime achievement award for variety at the British Comedy Awards and began hosting ITV's The Price Is Right (1972). The entertainer was, by this time, a Rolls-Royce-driving multimillionaire and married since 1983 to Wilnelia Merced, a former Miss World. He later claimed that he regretted becoming so associated with game shows and wished he'd done more variety work on TV.

Play Your Cards Right (1980) was axed in 1999 and, with changing tastes in entertainment, his TV career began to slide. He returned to the theatre - but experienced an unexpected revival after his wife watched an edition of the satirical quiz, Have I Got News For You, and suggested he could present the programme. After calling show regular Paul Merton, he landed the gig and offered to be "a little bit deadpan". "But the team said, 'No, be Bruce Forsyth,'" he said. He used the occasion to parody some of his old game shows, much to the ill-disguised disgust of team captain Ian Hislop. But the appearance led to Forsyth, an accomplished tap dancer, being offered the job of hosting Strictly Come Dancing (2004), which began a year later. Viewed with scepticism when it launched, the celebrity dance show became one of the most-watched programmes on TV by the time it reached its fifth series in 2007. He brought his own brand of avuncular good humour to the proceedings - reassuring many of the contestants with the phrase "you're my favourites".

After missing a handful of episodes because of illness, he decided to "step down from the rigours" of presenting Strictly in 2014.

He continued to host the Christmas and charity editions of Strictly until 2014 - all of which were taped, as opposed to live broadcasts. Away from entertainment, Forsyth's biggest passion was golf and he took part in many pro-celebrity tournaments. His house was next to the course at Wentworth, where he played with many of the world's best players, practising in the bunker in his own back garden.

During his career, Forsyth's multiple talents and years of application sparked an enduring appeal. In 2011 he was knighted after years of campaigning by his fans and a parliamentary Early Day Motion signed by 73 MPs. But he suffered from ill health towards the end of his life, and in 2016 his wife revealed he still had "a bit of a problem moving", following major surgery a year earlier. Sir Bruce was one of the last entertainers from the tradition of music hall to be working on British television. In many ways his act barely changed. The same corny gags, the same toothy smile and, above all, the same manic enthusiasm. He is particularly remembered for his ability to transform run-of-the-mill party games into glorious moments of mayhem that enthralled contestants and audiences alike.

He died in August 2017 at his home in Virginia Water, Surrey, England, UK following a period of ill health. He was 89. He was survived by his second wife.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (3)

Wilnelia Merced (15 January 1983 - 18 August 2017) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Anthea Redfern (24 December 1973 - 1979) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Penny Calvert (March 1953 - 1973) ( divorced) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Created catchphrases for each of his many TV game-shows. The most famous include "Nice to see you, To see you Nice", "Give Us a Twirl", "Good Game, Good Game" and "Didn't They Do Well".
Had a very large chin.
"Thinker Pose": Crouching figure (similar to Rodin's "The Thinker" sculpture) with fist raised to chin, seen in silhouette at the beginning of his shows.

Trivia (17)

He had one son, Jonathan Joseph, with third wife Wilnelia Merced, two daughters Charlotte Forsyth and Louisa Forsyth with second wife Anthea Redfern and three daughters Debbie Forsyth, Julie Forsyth and Laura Forsyth with first wife Penny Calvert.
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to entertainment.
He was referenced in the song "You're in a Bad Way" by Saint Etienne.
He first appeared on television in 1938.
Made some vocal records.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to entertainment.
He was regarded as one of the last great variety entertainers, as he could act, sing, play piano, ukulele and accordion, dance and tell jokes.
Father-in-law of Dominic Grant.
Served as a corporal in the Royal Air Force.
He was created a Knight Bachelor in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to Entertainment and to Charity.
His first wife and Gordon Mulholland's first wife were sisters.
Was just 7 years older than Julie Andrews, who played his daughter in Star! (1968).
He holds the record for the longest television career in the world, starting in 1939 and continuing well into the 21st century.
He was a direct descendant of William Forsyth, a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society; the forsythia was named after him.
His parents were Salvation Army members who sang and played music at home.
He made his stage debut at age 14 as "Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom", appearing at the bottom of the bill.
His ashes were buried beneath the stage at the London Palladium on 18 August 2018, exactly a year after his death.

Personal Quotes (15)

[Speaking in November 2004]: I'm not 77 until February and every month to me is vital.
I do a work-out every morning, half-an-hour, yoga and stretches, always before breakfast otherwise I don't feel like it.
I'd never done a show where I'd sat down behind a desk. I always call myself a 'head-to-toe' performer, I move around.
[when asked by Jasmine Bligh on the talent show where he made his first (pre-war) television appearance what he wanted to be when he grew up] I want to be a famous dancer like Fred Astaire so I can buy my mum a fur coat.
I don't know why they call it light entertainment though. Were Morecambe (Eric Morecambe) and Wise (Ernie Wise) light entertainment? The Two Ronnies (1971)? I think it was very heavy. It got millions and millions of viewers; it was heavy entertainment, giving the general public what they wanted. I've never liked the idea of light entertainment; I've never understood it and I never will.
I am not doddery... doddery I am not!
When I was in the business as a young performer, it was a recognised fact that when you got to 60 you were out, because there'd be a new crop of comics coming up all the time, every 10 years or so.
Strictly Come Dancing (2004) is the most difficult show I've ever done. Even as a child of nine or 10 when I was doing competitions, I always had an audience in front of me that I could bounce off. All I've got in front of me here is a camera - so it is difficult to do a Bruce Forsyth performance at times.
Val Parnell of Sunday Night at the Palladium said to me when I was very worried after doing six weeks that I was running out of material, 'Don't worry you've got another 33, 34 shows - do them, forget them, do next week, forget it'. And that's how I've regarded television ever since - you do it, good or bad, you forget it.
Even though I'm 81, when I walk on to a studio floor, I feel 30. People have been asking if I'm going to retire for the last 10 or 15 years. It's getting to be an old question - I'm nearly as old as the question! I'll know when I've had enough and probably the audience will know when I've had enough as well. When it happens, I'm ready for it. I still love show business, I still love to get out there.
It's a good thing to cap the salaries and I think it should have probably been done a long time ago. We've always been overpaid, but it's the demand. It's like theatres, you'll only command a high salary if you put bums on seats. So if you are in that position, that does give you a status of asking for big money. But everybody's taken pay cuts now, I think it's a very good thing. (Speaking in 2009)
I don't want to grow old gracefully. I want to put up a bit of a fight. [8 July 2010]
[on being awarded Knighthood in June 2011]: So happy and so relieved in a way. When I got the CBE there'd been speculation every year and I think there's been too much talk about it, so I'm thrilled at last it has happened. I feel very proud that my career hasn't been in vain. I just love getting out there and performing and this is a reward that I never expected and hope I'm worthy of. We were doubtful because it's been going on so long, the speculation, we thought it might be a hoax so we did check all the way down the line that it was real.
[on Jimmy Savile] I never liked him. I can honestly say that. There was something about him that was difficult to like. It wasn't because he was so brash about everything - it wasn't that. He had this manner that you thought, 'What is behind this man?' Now we know what was behind it all - which is terrible to find out. I feel sorry for his family and the charity people that put so much trust in him. But of course he was making so much money. The whole thing is too dreadful. It is unbelievably bad. He got into hospital and molested people. That is far worse than being in the BBC. It is a pity he can't be brought to the justice system for all that has happened.
[When a friend asked him, a couple of weeks before his death, what he had been doing for the past 18 months] "I've been very, very busy... Being ill!"

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