Harry Secombe

Harry Secombe
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Harry Secombe

Sir Harry Donald Secombe , CBE (September 8, 1921 – April 11, 2001) was an actor, comedian and Welsh tenor, best known for his character Neddie Seagoon in the program The Goon Show, a radio comedy of the BBC.

Harry_Secombe’s Biography

Beginnings

Born in Swansea, Wales, was the third of the four children of a marriage consisting of a shopkeeper and a caretaker. Secombe studied at the Swansea Dynevor School.

His family was a religious practitioner, and he was part of the congregation of St. Stephen’s Church in Danygraig. Member of the choir, in the social meetings of the parish, he played at age 12 a sketch entitled The Welsh Courtship.

British Army

After leaving school, in 1937 he worked in a warehouse. In 1938 he joined the Territorial Army, serving as Lance Bombardier in the Royal Artillery. Secombe called his unit “The Five Mile Snipers” during World War II, and served in the Campaign in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

When he visited the Malvinas Islands to entertain the troops after the Falklands War of 1982, he was promoted to the job of Sergeant for his old regiment – 37 years after being demobilized.

Artist of the show

Secombe joined the cast of the Windmill Theater in 1946, using a number he had devised in Italy, and which was related to the way people shaved. After touring for a while, his first radio career came when he was chosen to work on the Welsh Rarebit series, followed by Variety Bandbox performances and a regular role in Educating Archie.

Secombe met Michael Bentine at the Windmill Theater, and was introduced to Peter Sellers by his agent Jimmy Grafton. Along with Spike Milligan, whom he met in Tunisia, a script was written entitled Crazy People, which ended up becoming the radio comedy The Goon Show. Issued for the first time on May 28, 1951, the show continued until 1960. Secombe became famous for playing Neddie Seagoon, the center of many of the absurd situations of the series.

Although the success of The Goon Show meant that he did not need to do other work, he also continued his career as a singer. In the beginnings of the same one, its number used to finish with a jocosa version of the duet Sweethearts, in which it sang papers of baritone and falsetto. Having studied with maestro Manlio di Veroli, he became one of the few tenors dedicated to bel canto, having a good number of albums in the best-seller lists.

In 1958 he starred in the film Jet Storm, starring Sybil Thorndike and Richard Attenborough.

The power of his voice allowed Secombe to perform in many musical works. These included the 1963 Pickwick premiere, based on the work of Charles Dickens The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, with which he reached number two with the single If I Ruled the World. In 1965 the show was produced on a tour of the United States, Secombe on Broadway getting a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.He also acted in 1967 in The Four Musketeers, was Mr. Bumble in Carol Reed’s 1968 film Oliver, based on the musical by Lionel Bart, and The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins.

Last years of career

In his later years, Secombe (whose brother Fred Secombe was a pastor of the Church of Wales, part of the Anglican Communion) attracted new audiences as a presenter of religious programs, such as the BBC Songs of Praise or the of the ITV Highway. He was also a programming advisor for Harlech Television.

In 1981 he was knighted. In 1990 she was one of the few celebrities honored with a second intervention in This Is Your Life, the first one taking place in 1958.

Later life

Secombe suffered a stroke in 1997, from which he recovered slowly, being diagnosed shortly after prostate cancer. After suffering a second stroke in 1999, he was forced to abandon his television career, although he shot a documentary about his situation in the hope of supporting others affected by his own illness.

He died aged 79 due to prostate cancer in Guilford, England, in April 2001. He was cremated and his ashes buried in Shamley Green parish, a funeral was held on October 26. his honor at Westminster Abbey. The service was attended by Charles of Wales and representatives of Philip of Edinburgh, Anna Mountbatten-Windsor, Margaret of Windsor and Edward of Kent.

Family life

Secombe met his wife, Myra Atherton, in a Mumbles dance hall. They married in 1948, and had four children:

  • Jennifer Secombe, married to actor Alex Giannini. She was also an artistic agent of her father.
  • Andy Secombe, actor and author.
  • David Secombe, writer and photographer.
  • Katy Secombe, actress.

More Facts about Harry Secombe

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