NICE TO SEE HIM
TRIBUTES FLOW FOR THE BELOVED BRITISH ENTERTAINER
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