Sir Harry Secombe
Harry Secombe was born in St Thomas, Swansea 18th September 1921 the son of Jane Gladys (nee Davies) and Fredrick. In his childhood, he would sing in St Thomas, Church choir with his brother Fred. Fred would go on to become an Anglican priest and Harry a superb tenor singer and comedian. When he left school he got a job in the stores at Baldwyns and in 1938 despite being short-sighted he managed to join the Territorial Army. During the second world war while attached to the 132nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery he met Spike Milligan while serving in North Africa. In 1946 as the war came to an end he got a job at The Windmill Theatre, London and would often be heard on BBC Radio voicing characters on shows such as Welsh Rarebit, Variety Band Box and Educating Archie. At the Windmill Theatre he was introduced to Michael Bentine and Peter Sellers by his agent Jimmy Gratton, then together with Spike Milligan in 1951 they were commissioned by the BBC to write for a show called Those Crazy People. Soon this show developed into The Goon Show which remained on the air until 1960. He also appeared in several Ealing Studio films, including Jet Storm and Davy. His wonderful tenor voice allowed him to appear in many stage musicals such as ‘The Pickwick Papers’, where he performed as Pickwick alongside the very talented Roy Castle. The song from the show ‘If I Ruled the World’, became a number one hit in the UK and throughout the world. His hit song written by Charlie Chaplin ‘Love this is my Song’, reached number two in the British charts and was a huge success world wide. Harry played the part of Mr Bumble in the Lionel Bart and Carol Reed’s highly successful musical film ‘Oliver’ and went on to perform in the Envy Segment of the ‘Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins’, 1971.The Harry Secombe Show started on Christmas Day 1968 and ran for 31 episodes lasting until 1973. He also appeared as a guest or the host on many TV shows such as Sing a Song of Secombe, and Secombe with Music, staring along side Spike Milligan, Ronnie Barker and Arthur Low and many others. In later life he would go on to present the BBCs Songs of Praise, ITVs Stars on Sunday and Highway. In 1980 he lost a considerable amount of weight suffering with peritonitis and also two minor strokes. He developed pancreatic cancer and diabetes. Although suffering with this he was to produce short information films of dealing with his health problems. Harry was a devoted family man married to his lifelong wife Myra (nee Atherton) whom he had met in 1946 at the dance hall on Mumbles Pier. They had 4 children Jennifer, Andy, David and Kathy. He received a CBE IN 1963 and was Knighted 1981.Sir Harry Secombe passed away on 11TH April 2001. His Epitaph reads. ‘To Know Him was to Love Him’.