Entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89

Entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89
Photo Credit To S Meddle/ITV Rex/Sutterstock

Legendary broadcaster and entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89, his family has confirmed.

In a statement this afternoon, his family said he died peacefully surrounded by his wife and children.

The statement read: ‘It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.

‘A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.

‘With a twinkle in his eye, he responded “I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!” Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.

‘The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.

‘There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.’

Sir Bruce is loved around the country for his 75-year TV career presenting shows including The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Strictly Come Dancing.

Fans, viewers and leading figures in showbusiness expressed their sadness and grief today after it was announced Sir Bruce had passed away.

It comes after a series of health scares for the TV star, who was rushed to hospital with a severe chest infection earlier this year.

Sir Bruce with his wife Wilnelia Merced at the launch of his book 'Strictly Bruce' at Fortnum and Mason in September 2015

Sir Bruce with his wife Wilnelia Merced at the launch of his book ‘Strictly Bruce’ at Fortnum and Mason in September 2015

Sir Bruce was forced to undergo keyhole surgery following a fall at his home in October 2015 after two aortic aneurysms were discovered.

THE STATEMENT IN FULL

‘It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.

‘A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.

‘With a twinkle in his eye, he responded “I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!” Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.

‘The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.

‘There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.’

Although he was expected to take two months to recover, the process took longer than initially hoped.

Born the son of a garage owner in Edmonton, north London in 1928, Sir Bruce first appeared on TV aged just 11 when he sang and danced on the BBC show Come And Be Televised.

Three years later he made his professional debut as The Mighty Atom, a solo song-and-dance act.

He got his big break in the 1950s aged 30 through the ITV series Sunday Night at the London Palladium and then hosted several game shows, including The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right and You Bet!.

It was during his height in the 1970s that his catchphrases became nationally renowned, including ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice’ and ‘Didn’t he (/she/they) do well?’.

He received an OBE in 1998 and was knighted in 2011. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the longest TV career which spanned 75 years from 1939 to 2014.

In 2013 he appeared at Glastonbury festival on the Avalon stage, becoming one of the oldest performers on the festival at the age of 85.

From 2004 he co-presented Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly until he stepped down aged 86 in 2014, revealing the long shows were taking their toll on his health.

He said at the time:  ‘Live television is very strenuous, especially when some shows are an hour and 40 minutes.

‘I have to do all the announcements and introduce the judges. And I’m running up and down the stairs 40 to 50 times per show. And I was getting the flu. I always got the flu in studios.’

From 1953 to 1973, Sir Bruce was married to Penny Calvert, with whom he had three daughters – Debbie, Julie and Laura.

In 1973 he married his Generation Game assistant Anthea Redfern. They had two daughters, Charlotte and Louisa, before their marriage ended in 1979.

In 1983 he married Wilnelia Merced, a model who was crowned Miss World in 1975. The pair met while judging the 1980 Miss World Competition.

In 2015 Sir Bruce suffered two aneurysms – swellings of the main blood vessel from the heart – and never fully recovered.

Wilnelia revealed that he struggled to walk and barely left their home on Surrey’s opulent Wentworth Estate.

She told You Magazine in November 2016: ‘The operation took his energy because of his age, there’s no question about it.

‘Some days are better than others. On the not-so-good days he tries to rest. He is in incredible shape mentally but he does get very tired.

‘He doesn’t want to do anything publicly until he’s 100 per cent well. I respect that.’ 

End of an era: Sir Bruce with Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, after he stepped down from hosting Strictly in 2014

Sir Bruce was rushed to hospital in February 2016 for life-saving surgery after his health drastically deteriorated since a serious fall in October 2015.

Lady Wilnelia said: ‘It was very scary to see him because he was very bruised. It was really really awful.

‘The doctor decided to do a whole body scan, and that’s when they found the two aneurysms,’ the Puerto-Rican beauty said.

‘One was in the abdominal, and one was near his right hip. Then it was a big question, do we go ahead and have the operation? As doctors said if you have internal bleeding it’s very difficult to make it.’

The former Miss World also spoke to You Magazine about what life would be like after Bruce.

She said: ‘I don’t think about it too much. I hope I’ll be prepared somehow, but it doesn’t feel real. He’s the man I fell in love with because his brain is there.

‘He has a bit of a problem moving, but we still laugh and talk. I pray, I believe. The main thing is that he’s doing well. The pain is more emotional; sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh.’

‘To me Bruce has always been a young guy’: Former Miss World Wilnelia Forsyth on being married to national treasure Sir Bruce

Wilnelia, Lady Forsyth, leads a curious double life. At home, on Surrey’s opulent Wentworth Estate, she is a glossy but ordinary housewife; Sir Bruce, her husband, is very much the star. But in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island where she was born, it’s a different story.

When Wilnelia (née Merced) was crowned Miss World in 1975, she became Puerto Rico’s uncrowned queen – and since Bruce got his knighthood five years ago she has been its unofficial first lady, too.

Speaking to the You magazine in November 2016, she opened up on life with Bruce and how his fame gave her an extra boost back home.

Sir Bruce met wife Lady Wilnelia, pictured with him, at the 1980 Miss World competition, in which they were both judges. Wilnelia won the competition in 1975 for Puerto Rico

 Lady Wilnelia, pictured with Sir Bruce and his children Laura, left, Charlotte, right and Jonathan, second left, after he was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2011, said she was welcomed ‘quickly’ into the family

She said: ‘Nobody there really understands what it’s about, but they love the idea that I am a lady,’ she says.

Winning Miss World may not generate much press in the UK, but in Puerto Rico, ‘it’s everything’.

BRUCE’S BEST LINES

Bruce Forsyth became well known on television for his famous catchphrases.

Here are some of his best one-liners:

‘Nice to see you, to see you, nice’ – The Generation Game

‘Didn’t he/she do well?’ – The Generation Game

‘Not like that!’ – Strictly Come Dancing

‘OK dollies do your dealing’ – The Price is Right

‘And what do points make?’ – Various gameshows

‘Higher or lower?’ – The Price is Right

‘I’ve made up my mind – you’re the best’ – Strictly Come Dancing 

Like a latter-day Princess Diana, Wilnelia is fêted for her charity work, and recognised everywhere she goes.

Bruce, who is known out there as ‘Señor Mundo’ (Mr World) is, frankly, a bit of a nobody: ‘It’s embarrassing sometimes. They introduce me and forget him. He could be a beachcomber, nobody really cares, but he handles it well.’

She added she never expected to be married to the entertainer and puts it down to the quirks of life.

Wilnelia said: ‘So many unlikely things have happened! I nearly didn’t make it to Miss World. If I hadn’t won, I would never have met Bruce.

‘It was chance that brought me from Puerto Rico to England, yet it feels as though it was meant to be.’

Losing Bruce is something she has had to confront in recent years.

In late 2015, she was wondering if he would survive the night.

Medical tests after a fall at home showed that Bruce had two life-threatening aneurysms – blood-filled swellings on his major arteries – which, if ruptured, could prove fatal.

Surgery was also risky. Wilnelia said she was ‘petrified’ as he was taken to theatre. Though Bruce survived, 2016 became one of the most difficult years of their lives.

The primetime colossus, who dominated Strictly Come Dancing for 11 years and defined an era of popular TV with The Generation Game, never fully recovered and struggled to walk from then on.

‘The operation took his energy because of his age, there’s no question about it,’ said Wilnelia. ‘Some days are better than others. On the not-so-good days, he tries to rest.’

She revealed Bruce told her ‘she’s strong and will make a life without him’.

But Wilnelia was not so sure.

She said: ‘I don’t think about it [his death] too much. I hope I’ll be prepared somehow, but it doesn’t feel real.

The couple, pictured at Wimbledon in 2015, met when he was 52 and she was 23, and have been together for almost 40 years

‘He’s the man I fell in love with because his brain is there. He has a bit of a problem moving, but we still laugh and talk. I pray, I believe.

‘The main thing is that he’s doing well. The pain is more emotional; sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh.’

Following his surgery, her main concern was keeping him entertained.

‘Thank God he’s a TV freak,’ she said. ‘During the summer he followed the Olympics. Now we have The Apprentice.

‘He enjoys watching Question Time, we do puzzles and he loves the internet. I used to go to a zumba class to keep fit; now I do it at home in front of him. The children come to stay all the time, so there’s plenty of love around.’

She was 23 when they met, Bruce, 52, with two failed marriages behind him and five daughters, two older than her – all of which he explained as they took to the dancefloor for the first time after the Miss World dinner. ‘I thought, ‘Surely, if you want to see me again that’s the last thing you should mention!’ But I appreciated his honesty,’ she says.

The former Miss World, pictured with Bruce when he was knighted in 2011 said he revealed he had daughters older than her when they first met and she 'appreciated his honesty'

The former Miss World, pictured with Bruce when he was knighted in 2011 said he revealed he had daughters older than her when they first met and she ‘appreciated his honesty’

When people kept coming up to him saying, ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice’, she didn’t know it was a catchphrase, and thought it was sweet he had so many friends. ‘I had no idea who he was. You couldn’t Google anyone back then.’

For two years, they had a glamorous, transatlantic romance, meeting mostly in New York, where Wilnelia worked as a model.

When Bruce proposed at the Turnberry golf club in Scotland (now owned by Donald Trump), she accepted immediately: ‘To me he’s always been a young guy, which was how I sold it to my mother.’

Bruce won Wilnelia’s mother Delia’s approval, though on their wedding day she gave him a book called Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth by Peter Kelder, and a letter detailing how she expected him to look after her daughter.

‘I told him if he was taking me he was marrying two women,’ Wilnelia said.

The day she met Bruce’s elder daughters (he has Debbie, Julie and Laura by his first wife Penny Calvert, whom he married in 1953, and two younger daughters, Charlotte and Louisa, with his 1970s Generation Game co-star and second wife Anthea Redfern), she was very nervous.

‘I couldn’t sleep the night before. I changed my clothes 100 times; I put my hair up, then took it down, I wanted to look older. [My friend] Teresa said, ‘Just be yourself – they know how old you are.’

‘The girls welcomed me so quickly. I feel that when you give love you get love back – it’s as simple as that – and I have loved them from the start. Charlotte and Louisa were only four and five when we met.

‘All credit to their mothers for the way they raised them. The girls have been my friends.’

‘Who can say they went out on top? Well I did’: Sir Bruce Forsyth on how he made the right decision to retire after almost 80 years in showbusiness 

After almost 80 years of appearing on television, Sir Bruce Forsyth revealed he was delighted to be ‘going out on top’ when he retired.

He first appeared on the small screen in 1939 as an all-singing, all-dancing 11-year-old, and ended his full-time showbiz stint as host of Strictly Come Dancing between 2004 and 2014.

After quitting the show that year, he made special appearances on the Children in Need editions in 2014 and 2015, before ill health forced him to hang up his dancing shoes.

In what is believed to be his last televised interview on Loose Women in October 2015, he said: ‘Whoever leaves a show at the top? Well, I did.’

The presenter and entertainer was promoting his autobiography which featured stories and pictures from throughout his life.

And his witty banter was on show throughout, with Forsyth showing off his comedy stylings with the presenters when talking about his work with some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names.

He said: ‘Cary Grant came to watch me in panto one year back when he lived in Bristol. He also came to see me later on when I was doing my one man show in Los Angeles.

‘What a lovely man he was…but what a terrible [real] name he had. Archie Leach!’

Sir Bruce also revealed he enjoyed his days performing at the London Palladium, despite the hefty workload.

He said: ‘We did 40 weeks a year with 40 different top of the bill acts. Where could you even find 40 different top of the bills these days…apart from me!’

The entertainer said his wife Lady Wilnelia was the inspiration behind his autobiography after presenting him with a book of photos for his 80th birthday.

He added: ‘My agent said I should do a book and make it longer. It was such a pleasure to do it.

‘Everybody here and sitting at home – write a book. Get lots of photos and you will find the way your mind is triggered is amazing.

‘It is a therapy and it does anybody good to go back over their whole lives.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4077192/Sir-Bruce-Forsyth-dies.html#ixzz4q7hoKHBx

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