Harry Secombe

Harry Secombe

__NOTOC__Infobox actor
bgcolour = silver

name = Harry Secombe
birthdate = birth date|1921|9|8|df=y
location = Swansea, Wales, UK
deathdate = death date and age|2001|4|11|1921|9|8|df=y
deathplace = Shamley Green, Surrey, England, UK
birthname = Harry Donald Secombe
children = (see below)
spouse = Myra Atherton

Sir Harry Donald Secombe, CBE (8 September 1921–11 April 2001) was a Welsh entertainer with a noted fine tenor singing voice and a talent for comedy.

Born at St. Thomas, Swansea, he served in the Royal Artillery in the British Army (he referred to his unit as 'The Five-Mile Snipers") during World War II in the North African Campaign. This was where he first met Spike Milligan in Tunisia. Milligan's artillery battery had a larger calibre artillery piece that was too big for the gun pits Secombe's unit's cannon had used. The rest of Secombe's battery had already moved and he was with the last element in some tents at the foot of a cliff below their former position. The officers in Milligan's battery didn't bother to enlarge the pits. When Spike's cannon fired its first shell, the recoil drove the gun up out of the pit and over the cliff. Secombe recalled that when the weapon fell outside the tent, he and his mates thought, "My God! They're throwing cannons at us!" A moment later, the flap of the tent opened and Spike poked his head in and said in his Eccles' voice, "Has anyone seen a gun?"

His first comedy act was a routine about how people shaved. Secombe always claimed that his ability to sing could always be counted to save him when he bombed. Both Milligan and Sellers credited him with keeping them on the bill when club owners wanted to sack him.

In the early 1950s, he joined with Milligan, Michael Bentine and Peter Sellers in the BBC radio comedy "The Goon Show". Secombe was notable for playing Neddie Seagoon, the focus of many of the show's absurd plots.

Secombe appeared in many stage musicals, including "Pickwick" (1963, based on Dickens's The Pickwick Papers) and "The Four Musketeers" (1967), and had several chart successes, the song most associated with him being "If I Ruled the World" (from "Pickwick"). He also appeared as Mr. Bumble in Carol Reed's film of Lionel Bart's "Oliver!" (1968), and in the Envy segment of "The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins".

Later in life, Secombe (whose brother Fred Secombe was a priest in the Church in Wales, part of the Anglican Communion) attracted new audiences as a presenter of religious programmes, such as the BBC's "Songs of Praise" and ITV's "Highway". He was also a special programming consultant to Harlech Television.cite news| url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,471984,00.html |title=Sir Harry Secombe dies |publisher=The Guardian |date=2001-04-11 |accessdate=2006-06-04]

He was knighted in 1981, and jokingly referred to himself as Sir Cumference (in recognition of his rotund figure). Comedian Vic Reeves mentioned Secombe in his 1991 song "Meals On Wheels" ("Harry Secombe wants his pie and peas").

Secombe suffered a stroke in 1997, from which he made a slow recovery, only to be diagnosed with prostate cancer the following September. After suffering a second stroke in 1999, he was forced to abandon his television career, but made a documentary about his condition in the hope of giving encouragement to other sufferers.cite web| url=http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/hissecombe.htm| title=Television Heaven: Harry Secombe| accessdate=2006-02-12]

Secombe and his wife, Myra Atherton, had four children:
*Jennifer Secombe, married to actor Alex Giannini. She was also her father's agent.
*Andy Secombe, a voice and film actor, as well as an author
*David Secombe, a writer and photographer
*Katy Secombe, an actress

His niece, Joan Secombe, is a head of house at Bishop Luffa school, in Chichester.

He died at the age of 79, from prostate cancer, at his home in Shamley Green, Surrey, England, in April 2001.

The Secombe Theatre, Sutton, bears his name in memory of this former local personality. [ [http://www.suttontheatres.co.uk/ Sutton theatres] ] .

He was a member of the Savage Club, a London Gentlemen's Club in Whitehall Place.


*"On with the Motley" (1955) UK #16
*"Bless This House" (1960) UK
*"If I Ruled the World" (1963) UK #18
*"This Is My Song" (1967) UK #2"Guinness Book of British Hit Singles", 7th ed., 1989]


* "Sacred Songs" (1962) UK #16
* "Secombe's Personal Choice" (1967) UK #6
* "If I Ruled the World" (1971) UK #17
* "Bless This House: 20 Songs Of Joy" (1978) UK #8"Guinness Book of British Hit Albums" 1st ed., 1983 ISBN 0-85112-246-9]
* " [http://www.captainbeaky.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=13&Itemid=60 Captain Beaky and His Band]


*"An Entertaining Life". Foreword by HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. London: Robson Books (2004). Paperback: ISBN 1-861-05811-X, ISBN 978-1-86105-811-9.

* "The Goon Omnibus" (Goon For Lunch). London: The Companion Book Club (1978)

* "Twice Brightly" London: The Companion Book Club


External links

*imdb name|id=0781183|name=Harry Secombe

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