Birthday: February 4, 1915
Died At Age: 95
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Sir Norman Joseph Wisdom
Born Country: England
Born in: Marylebone, London, United Kingdom
Famous as: Actor
Height: 5'2" (157 cm), 5'2" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Doreen Brett (m. 1941—1946), Freda Isobel Simpson (m. 1947–1966)
mother: Maud Wisdom (née Targett)
children: Jacqueline Wisdom, Michael Wisdom, Nicholas Wisdom
Died on: October 4, 2010
place of death: Abbotswood Nursing Home, Ballasalla, Isle of Man
City: London, England, Marylebone, England
Norman Wisdom was an English actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian. He is best remembered for his lead role in the film ‘Trouble in Store’ for which he earned a BAFTA Award. He was also popular in Iran, South America, and many Eastern Bloc countries where he was the only one western actor whose films were permitted to be shown. Born in London to a dressmaker and a chauffeur, Wisdom grew up alongside his elder brother in an abusive household. He father used to hit him often. After spending a period in a children's home, he ran away at the age of 11 only to return and work as an errand boy. Not having a loving home to go back to, Wisdom was forced to work as a waiter as well as a cabin boy in the Merchant Navy. He eventually entered the film industry, making his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31. For several decades, he worked as a film and television actor. He also forged a successful career on Broadway. In 1995, Wisdom was appointed OBE and was also given the Freedom of the City of London. He was married twice and had three children.
Childhood & Early Life
Norman Wisdom was born on 4 February 1915, in Marylebone, London, England. His mother, Maud, was a dressmaker while his father, Frederick, served as a chauffeur. He had an older brother named Frederick who died in 1971.
His father was very abusive. At the age of 11, Norman ran away from a children's home where he had lived for a period of time. At the age of 13, he left school and became as an errand boy in a grocer's shop.
Later, he worked a variety of odd jobs, including as a waiter, a coal-miner, and a cabin-boy in the Merchant Navy.
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Norman Wisdom worked as a musician in the British Army for a while. After he was demobilized in 1945, he started his career as a professional entertainer, initially assisting the magician David Nixon.
He made his television debut in 1948 and also had a minor movie role in the film ‘A Date with a Dream,’ released that year.
He soon teamed up with the Rank Organization and featured in their 1953 film ‘Trouble in Store’ as a lead actor. His breakthrough role garnered him a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Wisdom starred in ‘One Good Turn’ (1955) which turned out to be the 7th most successful film of that year. The same year saw him in ‘As Long as They're Happy’ and ‘Man of the Moment’.
His subsequent roles were as a window cleaner in the comedy ‘Up in the World’ (1956) and as a jewelry store worker in the sports comedy ‘Just My Luck’ (1957). His next project, ‘The Square Peg,’ was one of the biggest hits of the year 1959.
Wisdom began the 1960s with a more conventional film titled ‘The Bulldog Breed,’ which was directed by Robert Asher. In the ensuing years, he starred in the movies ‘The Girl on the Boat’, ‘On the Beat’, and ‘A Stitch in Time’.
His first color film was ‘The Early Bird’ in which he played a milkman. Released in 1965, the movie, also starring Edward Chapman and Jerry Desmonde, was one of the 15 most popular films at the British box office.
In 1966, the actor moved to the United States to act in a Broadway production of the musical ‘Walking Happy’. His performance in the same earned him a Tony Award nomination.
The success of the musical ‘Walking Happy’ led to him being cast in his first ever Hollywood movie titled ‘The Night They Raided Minsky's’. The flick, based on Rowland Barber’s 1960 novel, was released in 1968.
On 31 December 1976, he performed his theme song called "Don't Laugh at Me” on BBC1's ‘A Jubilee of Music,’ a program conducted to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's impending silver jubilee.
After touring Australia and South Africa for some time, Wisdom returned to Britain. In 2004, he played a fitness fanatic pensioner in ‘Coronation Street’. Although he retired after that, he came out of retirement in 2007 to take a role in the short movie ‘Expresso,’ which turned out to be his last movie role.
From 1995 to 2004, Norman Wisdom played the recurring role of Billy Ingleton in BBC’s ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. Although the role was initially supposed to be a one-off appearance, it proved to be so popular that the actor returned as the character on several occasions.
Family & Personal Life
Norman Wisdom married his first wife Doreen Brett in 1941.They had a son named Michael. Their marriage was dissolved in 1946.
In 1947, Wisdom married Freda Isobel Simpson. The couple had two kids: Nicholas and Jacqueline. They parted ways in 1968.
The actor lived a long life. He suffered a series of strokes during his last months and died on 4 October 2010, at the age of 95.