Ken Dodd was funnier than all the female BBC “comedians” combined. A piece in today’s Times:
Sir Ken Dodd, the veteran comedian and fixture of British showbusiness, died yesterday at the age of 90.
Two days earlier the entertainer had married his partner of 40 years, Anne Jones, at their mansion in Liverpool.
Announcing the death, Robert Holmes, Dodd’s publicist, said: “He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else.”He added: “With Ken gone, the lights have been turned out in the world of variety. He was a comedy legend and a genius.”
A chest infection forced Dodd to cancel his 2018 tour dates. Speaking at the end of February after a six-week stay in hospital, he praised the staff who cared for him but hinted at other health problems: “I need to get my legs sorted out,” he said, “because they seem to take me in a different direction than the one I want to go in.”
Famous for his unruly hair, buck teeth and colourful “tickling sticks”, Dodd became a fixture of television and radio in the Seventies and Eighties.
Over a career spanning 64 years Dodd rarely took a holiday and had planned to return to the stage. However, health concerns were compounded by the length of his sets, which could reach five hours. So long were his performances that the comedian Gary Delaney said in his tribute: “The funeral will be held on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday.”
Dodd made his professional debut in 1954 and mainly followed the music hall tradition of fast one-liners, once setting a Guinness World Record for telling 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours.
He spent 24 years with his first fiancée, Anita Boutin, before she died of a brain tumour in 1977. He spent the rest of his life with Ms Jones, a former dancer who appeared in his shows and acted as his manager.
“They had been together for 40 years,” Mr Holmes said. “It’s a love story to beat them all.”
In 1989 Dodd was charged with tax evasion. At the trial it was revealed that the Diddy Men – characters he created and used in his act – were often played by local children from stage schools who were never paid.
Dodd was also revealed to hold little money in his bank account, having £336,000 in cash in suitcases in his house. When asked by the judge “What does a hundred thousand pounds in a suitcase feel like?”, Dodd said: “The notes are very light, m’lord.”
He was represented by George Carman, QC, who said: “Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants”. He was later acquitted.
Dodd was also one of the most successful singers of the 1960s, with hits including Love is Like A Violin, Happiness and Tears, which was the third besttelling single of the decade. Only The Beatles sold more with She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand.
He was made an OBE in 1982 and knighted in the 2017 new year honours for services to entertainment and charity. His last performance was at The Auditorium in Liverpool on December 28.
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