Ernie Wise

Ernie Wise

Infobox actor
bgcolour = silver
name = Ernie Wise

imagesize = 180px
caption =
birthname = Ernest Wiseman
birthdate = Birth date|1925|11|27|df=yes
location = Bramley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England
deathdate = death date and age|1999|3|21|1925|11|27|df=yes
deathplace = Nuffield Hospital Gerrards Cross, Wexham Street, Buckinghamshire, England
height =
othername =
spouse = Doreen Blythe (1953–his death)
yearsactive =
homepage =
notable role = "Morecambe and Wise"
baftaawards = Best Light Entertainment Personality
1970 "Morecambe and Wise"
Best Light Entertainment Performance
1971 "Morecambe and Wise"
1973 "Morecambe and Wise"
1974 "Morecambe and Wise"
Special Award
1972 "Morecambe and Wise"
Academy Fellowship Award
1999 Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award

Ernest Wiseman OBE (27 November 1925 – 21 March 1999), better known by his stage name of Ernie Wise, was an English comedian, best known as one half of the comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, who became an institution on British television, especially for their Christmas specials.


Ernest Wiseman changed his name (as did his partner) to go into show business. He joined the industry at an early age, appearing as an actor and singer in music hall. Born in Bramley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, his father, Harry, a railway lamp man, was also a semi-professional singer, and they appeared together under the name "Bert Carson and his Little Wonder". In 1939, while still a teenager, he appeared with top British comedian Arthur Askey in his famous "Band Waggon" show, billed as England's Mickey Rooney.

Ernie joined forces with Eric Morecambe in 1941, and they became one of the greatest comedy double acts of all time. During World War Two, whilst Morecambe was a Bevin Boy, Wise served in the Merchant Navy.

They made their name in radio, transferring to television in 1954. In 1961 they got their own series on Associated TeleVision, transferring to BBC 1 in 1968. Over a period of nearly twenty years, they had regular series with both ITV and BBC. In 1976, they were both appointed OBEs.

Wise was commonly regarded as the straight man of the partnership, although his role gradually and subtly changed over the years. When Eddie Braben took over as their chief writer, he enriched Wise's persona by making him more pompous and naive. Wise's character changed from being a conventional straight man into a pretentious and self-satisfied idiot. Braben also made Wise a would-be writer; their classic BBC shows in the 1970s would always climax with an extended sketch, introduced by Ernie as "a play what I wrote." It was in just such a "play" that Glenda Jackson, at the height of her career, was made to speak the line "All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got."

Following Morecambe's death from a heart attack in 1984, Ernie Wise spent some of his time at Boca Raton, Florida where he had a holiday home. In the UK, he lived in Peterborough for many years next door to singer Edmund Hockridge, before moving to a luxury home on the banks of the River Thames in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Wise appeared regularly as a panellist on the ITV revival of the popular panel show "What's My Line?". He was a guest several times on "Countdown", had a gardening column in the "News of the World" newspaper and also appeared in a few West End plays. In 1990 he wrote his autobiography, called "Still on my way to Hollywood" but he suffered a minor stroke in December 1993, which was followed by a second minor stroke in August 1995. With his health declining, Wise announced his retirement from showbusiness on 27 November 1995, his 70th birthday.

Three years later, in December 1998 his health seriously began to falter when he suffered two heart attacks within a week, and had to undergo a triple heart bypass in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 22 January 1999. Wise was due to take part in a BBC 1 tribute to Eric Morecambe but had to withdraw due to ill health. In March 1999 he was flown back to the UK by air ambulance and taken to hospital.

Ernie Wise died from heart failure and a chest infection at the Nuffield Hospital, Gerrards Cross, Wexham Street, Buckinghamshire on 21 March 1999. [ [ Comedian Ernie Wise dies] ]

He was married to the dancer Doreen Blythe from 18 January 1953 until his death;they had no children.

Promotional work and appearances

* Ernie Wise made the first mobile phone call in the UK on 1 January 1985 from St Katherine's Dock, East London, to Vodafone's Headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire [ [ BBC News - Mobiles rack up 20 years of use] ] .

* His 1992 Christmas single was a recommended retail release in Music Week.

* Ernie Wise was an active and long-time participant in the "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign. He once posed for a publicity photo, grinning cheerfully while two boys in "Keep Britain Tidy" T-shirts stuffed him into a rubbish bin.

*"Eric and Ernie" (1973)
*"Still on my Way to Hollywood" (1990)


External links

* [ The Morecambe & Wise Tribute Site]
* [ Eric And Ern - Keeping The Magic Alive **Book, Film, TV Reviews, Interviews**]

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