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Didn't he do well? MARION MCMULLEN looks at the life of showbiz legend Sir Bruce Forsyth who would have turned 90 this month.

Byline: MARION MCMULLEN

Bruce hosts Beat the Clock E was born Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson and was also born an entertainer.

HLeaving school with no qualifications, Bruce made his theatre debut at the age of 14 as Boy Bruce the Mighty Atom.

The song-and-dance man, known fondly as Brucie, would go on to become a national treasure, picking up a knighthood along the way.

"Once you've experienced the warmth of an audience, the achievement of getting your first laugh, and entertaining them, singing or playing piano, it just keeps it all going," he once said.

Bruce honed his craft playing theatres and summer seasons up and down the country before rising to fame presenting popular Saturday night TV entertainment shows including The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price Is Right before becoming the face of Strictly Come Dancing.

Bruce was born in Edmonton, north London, on February 22, 1928.

The BBC, which helped to make him a household name, officially launched when he was eight years old.

His big break came presenting ITV variety show Sunday Night At The London Palladium in the late 1950s and he was soon sharing the stage with the likes of The Beatles, Cilla Black and Cliff Richard.

More than half of Britain was watching the show at its height and Bruce's early talent as a game show host were evident in the popular Beat The Clock segment when members of the audiences were invited to compete for prizes.

Sunday Night At The London Palladium also allowed Bruce's talent for live performance and quick-fire comedy to shine, although he once admitted: "My biggest regret is that my mother didn't see me walk on to that London Palladium stage, being the star she always wanted me to be. But I always say that when she reached heaven, she had a word with a few agents."

The king of the catchphrase came up with many favourite lines over the years from "I'm in charge" on Beat The Clock to "Nice to see you. To see you... nice", "Didn't he do well?" and "Cuddly toy, cuddly toy", all from The Generation Game.

Other catchphrases included "Brucie Bonus", "You don't get anything for a pair. Not in this game" and "All right, my loves?" Strictly Come Dancing added to the list, with Bruce reassuring celebrity contestants reeling from criticism from the judging panel with the words "You're my favourite".

He was married three times and formed a song-and-dance double act with his first wife, dancer Penny Calvert. They went on to have three daughters, Debbie, Julie and Laura.

He later married Generation Game hostess Anthea Redfern and had another two daughters, Charlotte and Louisa, before divorcing in 1979.

Bruce met his third wife when he was asked to judge the 1980 Miss World competition and met and fell for fellow judge Wilnelia Merced.

They later married and had a son called Jonathan Joseph, or JJ, with the Puerto Rician Miss World and Bruce once said of their romance: "I met my darling wife Wilnelia in 1980 when we were on the judging panel for the Miss World contest at the Royal Albert Hall. With two ex-wives and five daughters, I thought I wouldn't be involved with anyone for a long time... if ever.

"Winnie was so gorgeous, my jaw dropped - and it's a big jaw to drop."

The entertainer and broadcaster died last August with his family around him after his health deteroriated and he contracted pnemonia.

Lady Wilnelia recently said on ITV's This Morning: "We were able to be there and in the last week all the girls came to the house and they stayed, we watched movies. It was a very special time and I know how lucky we are that we were able to say goodbye."

The National Television Awards presented a prize in his memory this year with Ant and Dec becoming the first winners of the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award for their Saturday Night Takeaway show.

Bruce always prided himself on being an all-round family entertainer and once quipped: "No-one - apart from my agent, perhaps - should leave one of my shows in tears."

CAPTION(S):

The star on stage at the Palladium

Higher or lower? Brucie on Play Your Cards Right

A young Bruce, circa 1940

A teenage Bruce plays the ukulele

On holiday with his mum and dad in

Bruce with Sammy Davis Jnr in 1980

Performing with Julie Andrews and Beryl Reid at Brixton Music Hall in 1967

Brucie keeps order on The Generation Game in 1972

Bruce Forsyth hosted BBC series Strictly Come Dancing from 2004

Bruce hosts Beat the Clock

Recording a single to support the 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign in 1968
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 12, 2018
Words:784
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