New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -

A farewell to Bru­cie

Didn’t he do well? The ul­ti­mate en­ter­tainer, a na­tional trea­sure and an all-round top bloke – it was al­ways nice to see the warm, wel­com­ing face of Sir Bruce Forsyth burst onto our tele­vi­sion screens in var­i­ous guises dur­ing his more than 75-year ca­reer.

But the leg­endary per­son­al­ity, whose fa­mous catch­phrases such as “cud­dly toy, cud­dly toy!” and “nice to see you, to see you… nice” has fi­nally been si­lenced.

Bruce’s fam­ily an­nounced the pass­ing of the singer, dancer, ac­tor, pre­sen­ter and en­ter­tainer last week at age 89, fol­low­ing a long bat­tle with ill­ness.

“Bruce died peace­fully at his home sur­rounded by his wife Wil­nelia and all his chil­dren,” his man­ager Ian Wilson said on be­half of the Forsyth fam­ily.

“A cou­ple of weeks ago, a friend vis­ited him and asked him what he had been do­ing these last 18 months. With a twin­kle in his eye, he re­sponded, ‘I’ve been very, very busy… be­ing ill!’”

The man who made his name on the small screen, host­ing shows such as Sunday Night at the Pal­la­dium, The Gen­er­a­tion Game, The Price is Right and Strictly Come Danc­ing leaves be­hind Wil­nelia, Lady Forsyth (59), who is his third wife, and six chil­dren, nine grand­chil­dren and three great-grand­chil­dren – and an im­pres­sive legacy.

Born Bruce Joseph Forsyth-John­son on Fe­bru­ary 22, 1928 in Mid­dle­sex (he later short­ened his last name to save light bulbs out­side the­atres), he was the youngest son of Florence, a singer, and John, who owned a car re­pair garage. Florence, in par­tic­u­lar, had big dreams for Bruce. She ex­pressed her de­sire to see his name in lights many times be­fore she passed away, sadly without see­ing her son be­come a house­hold name.

He made his tele­vi­sion de­but at the age of 11 on a tal­ent show called Come and Be Tele­vised, just days be­fore BBC Tele­vi­sion was sus­pended due to the out­break of World War II in 1939. Bruce re­called he told the host he wanted “to dance like Fred As­taire, be a star and buy my mum a fur coat”.

But it wasn’t un­til 1958 that he got his big break host­ing Sunday Night. His own show was next, be­fore he took up the role that per­haps so­lid­i­fied his sta­tus as a na­tional trea­sure – host of the wildly pop­u­lar The Gen­er­a­tion Game. Shows such as Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right fol­lowed, and, at the in­cred­i­ble age of 75, Bruce ex­pe­ri­enced what was to be his fi­nal hit role – co-host­ing Bri­tain’s ver­sion of Danc­ing with the Stars, un­til he re­tired in 2015. He holds the Guin­ness World Record for hav­ing the long­est TV ca­reer for any male en­ter­tainer.

“How many peo­ple in show busi­ness have had three of the top shows ever on tele­vi­sion?” he said in his fi­nal in­ter­view in 2015. “If you have one in a life­time, you are lucky.

“But noth­ing was big­ger than Sunday Night, noth­ing was big­ger than The Gen­er­a­tion Game, noth­ing was big­ger than Strictly. So how for­tu­nate am I to have had this life?”

But if you asked Bruce what the high­light of his life was, there’s no doubt he would have an­swered with: Wil­nelia.

With two failed mar­riages – though he was on good terms with both his first wife Penny and second Anthea – Bruce never ex­pected to fall in love again, un­til he met the for­mer Miss World in 1980.

Wil­nelia, who won the ti­tle for Puerto Rico in 1975 , and Bruce

‘ The thought of death would have scared me more 20 years ago, but not now’

Gen­er­a­tion game! Top row (from left): JJ, Wil­nelia, Char­lotte Forsyth. Front row: Laura Fo­rysth, Julie Forsyth, Bruce, Louisa

Forsyth and Deb­bie Matthews.

Bruce and Wil­nelia were mar­ried for

32 years.

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