Eric Morecambe was born John Eric Bartholomew, and Ernie Wise was originally Ernest Wiseman.
After Bartholomew and Wise failed to draw in crowds, Eric also decided upon a stage name. Choosing the name of his hometown, Morecambe and Wise went on to entertain audiences for decades.
The Beatles had the good fortune to work with Eric and Ernie, and were clearly influenced by their 1963 collaboration on Moonlight Bay. The band went on to global success, of course, having taken a few tips from the duo.
Crafty Eric once suggested performing Hamlet, noting that Lawrence Olivier and John Gielgud charged three quid a seat for the same play every night "and they don't even get any laughs."
Bring Me Sunshine was not always the song they sang at the end of their show. Positive Thinking sometimes replaced it, though it never caught on quite as well.
Des O'Connor was the target of many well-meant pot-shots:
Ernie: He says he's a self made man.
Eric: Good of him to take the blame.
"There was no-one in the British theatre wouldn't have given their eye teeth to work with Morecambe and Wise" said Glenda Jackson. Andre Previn (Preview), Burt Bacharach (Backache), Elton John, Angela Rippon, Shirley Bassey, Diana Rigg, and a galaxy of stars would agree. Even good sport Des O'Connor appeared!
Their 1977 Christmas special was watched by over 27 million people, more than half the UK population at that time. The Queen herself is believed to have put the turkey roast back an hour to watch their festivities.
A commemorative statue was unveiled by Her Royal Majesty the Queen in 1999. The statue is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Morecambe... "don't laugh"!
Smile website conducted a survey in which Eric Morecambe was voted Funniest Man of the Century in 1999. Let's not forget it was Little Ern 'wot wrote' the plays too though!
The BBC's 1996 poll saw Morecambe and Wise voted 'Best Light Entertainment Performers of All Time.' A title that rightly tributes the talents of both Eric and Ernie.
Check out this Morecambe and Wise fansite
Visit Eric's statue at Morecambe Online
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