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The Late Sir Harry Secombe

Updated on November 6, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Eileen enjoys a variety of movies and likes to share reviews of those that impress her. She also loves British television comedy series.

Sir Harry and friends

Harry Secombe Entertainer

Harry Secombe was one of my Mum's favourite entertainers. He had a powerful, almost classical, singing voice. This was what my late Mum used to love about him.

Mum's sister though could not stand his voice but loved to watch Sir Harry when he was playing the fool.

Funny thing entertainment, isn't it?

One man's meat is certainly another man's poison when it comes to comedy, music and entertainment.

Never heard of Sir Harry Secombe?

I bet you have.

Let me remind you about this great entertainer.

On the stage as Pickwick
On the stage as Pickwick

Harry Donald Secombe was born in an area of Swansea on September 8th, 1921. His upbringing was a little more privileged than those children of Welsh coal miners. Harry's Dad was a grocer and his Mum a shop manageress.

His parents were regular church goers and by the age of 12 Harry was a member of the church choir. Even then though Harry loved to play the fool.

Harry's entertainment career, in a way, began during World War Two.

Harry encountered Spike Milligan as they both served King and Country in the Second World War. This chance meeting was to lead to their partnership in the crazy comedy gang called The Goons.

After Harry was demobbed in 1946 he secured various entertainment jobs becoming a regular comedian at The Windmill Theatre. He also began working for radio as the resident comedian. This time it was for a Welsh program called, Welsh Rarebit.

After meeting Michael Bentine, and then Peter Sellers, whilst he was working at the Windmill Theatre, comedy writing followed. Along with zany Spike Milligan, the four wrote a comedy script.

The title of this script was Crazy People and in due course this was to become the Goon Show.

With a singing voice which could raise the roof, Secombe carried on with his singing career although he did not need to. However he loved to sing.

When I was a youngster he would often appear on British Television sometimes appearing as part of the Goon Show or singing a straight, light opera song, or then again, maybe singing a silly song.

Sir Harry had an infectious giggle and personality. He was an expert at making silly voices which could always raise a giggle with us children.

Harry was a rather rotund gentleman whose appearance completely fitted with his funny side.

He did, however, appear in many straight singing roles. He appeared in various musicals, played Mr Bumble in the excellent musical film production of Oliver and played Mr Pickwick to perfection. Of course, his large build helped with these two roles.

With a brother who was a Vicar, I suppose it was fitting that, in later life, Sir Harry became host of British Television's Songs of Praise and Highway, which aired on a Sunday evening during what was often called the “god slot.”

In 1981 Harry was knighted and became Sir Harry Secombe. His fitting joke at the time was that he was going to be called Sir Cumference due to his large size.

Sir Harry died in April 2007 after four years of illness.

He had suffered two strokes but the cause of his death was prostate cancer. The second stroke had led to his retirement from the entertainment business.

I remember watching his last film which was made to give hope to others who had suffered similar strokes.

After Harry's death a memorial service was held to celebrate his life. This was attended by more than a few royals. Prince Charles was one of Sir Harry's biggest fans and it was his comedy that he loved.

Sir Harry Secombe’s tombstone has the words of a song on it - well almost. The words are very fitting and it simply says:-

To know him was to love him.

Of course I must include a bit of Secombe silliness

© 2010 Ethel Smith

Comments

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I always loved the zany Spike but like you I guess I loved them all. Thanks for the visit Tony

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Ah but he was great when he giggled! The Goons are still absolutely my favourite comedy act. They were classy and witty and tremendous fun! Each of them was a genius - I find it hard to say who was my favourite, though Sellers on screen was perhaps the best.

      Thanks for sharing about this great man. And reviving some good memories!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks to you all and yes Daisy he had a great voice when he could stop giggling :)

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I've never heard of him but what a voice!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      This is a lovely down the memory lane of a great entertainer and singer. Thank you for a great read.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Great to know and learn from the life history of passed out persons.

    • profile image

      loriamoore 

      8 years ago

      Cool. I learned something new.

    • men are dorks profile image

      men are dorks 

      8 years ago from Namibia

      I remember that. he was hillarious. we watch a dvd every once in a while and still laugh... grand man he was

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