Norman Wisdom ... was one of the countryís leading comedians with a genius for slapstic and a much loved comedic actor. He was also a fine singer and he realised that, as a music hall comic, the best way off the stage was a song. Whatís more he often wrote them himself. A Comedian. Comic Actor, Early TV Star, Singer, International Movie Star, Songwriter and A National Treasure! Here are all his hits & favourites of the 1950s
The hit making big-voiced tenor was the straight man in a comedy duo with Kenny Earle, while enjoying his run of UK ballad hits at the height of the rock Ďní roll explosion. Hits & more from this Welsh tenor who was successful in the charts and the variety circuit.
Donít Laugh At Me (ĎCause Iím A Fool): Please Opportunity: So Nice To Dream: The Wisdom Of A Fool: Dream For Sale: They Didnít Believe Me: Up In The World: Me And My Imagination: You Were Meant For Me: Narcissus (with JOYCE GRENFELL): My Darling My Darling: Once In Love With Amy: The Bath Song: My Little Dog (Whereís He Gone): Boy Meets Girl (with RUBY MURRAY): Heart Of A Clown: Iíd Like To Put On Record (That I Love Love You): Follow A Star: Give Me A Night In June: Two Rivers (with RUBY MURRAY): Beware: Happy Ending: London Melody: Impossible: I Donít Arf Love You (with JOYCE GRENFELL)
If anyone should know about clowning, it has to be Charlie Chaplin, who once said that Norman Wisdom was his favourite clown. And perhaps Normanís early years helped form the ďshellĒ that protected him from a tough start. Born on 4th February, 1915, second child in a family from Marylebone, London, who all slept in one room.
Taken into care, he ran away, returning to complete his schooling and start work as a delivery boy. He claims to have walked to Wales to sign on as cabin boy in the Merchant Navy, following this by stints as a coal miner and pageboy before joining the army in 1922. While serving in India, he learned to play drums, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet, which training was to prove valuable in later years on tour with his own show.
Post war, he was involved in a comic gymnastic routine in an army display, which led to an appearance at a local charity show. In the audience was Rex Harrison, who advised him to enter show business Ė and the rest is history. History that saw whatever Norman did was hated by the critics and loved by the public, who, after all, were buying the tickets and records.
The low budget comedies beginning with Trouble In Store not only made Norman a film star but also balanced the books of the Rank Organisation, whose big productions were barely profitable. His films were grossing more than the James Bond sagas. He made the most of being employed at jobs for which he was useless. There was an element of repetition but the audiences didnít seem to mind Ė his talent alone carried it all along.
In later life he appeared in Coronation Street and a longer run in Last Of The Summer Wine, both roles making the most of his natural exuberance. Contrast this with a single TV play where he played a man dying of cancer.
Knighted in 2000, a well-earned honour to a man whose vocal talent equaled the rest. Sometimes puckish, sometimes endearing, always appealing. Here is a selection of some of Normanís best, even his own lyrics in Donít Laugh At Me and The Bath Song. The collaboration with Joyce Grenfell was inspired, and the pairing with Ruby Murray ensured sales with both sets of fans.
Sadly, suffering from dementia, Norman is now in residential care, but here to treasure and enjoy are his songs.