|ERIC & ERNIE STORY|
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Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise met at an audition in early 1939. It was organised by Band Leader & Showman Jack Hylton. Ernie had been performing for some time & was, even then quite a celebrity. Jack was auditioning youth talent for a new show & took Ernie along for his valued opinion. Eric (they both agreed) shone out as being by far the best performer that day .. there eyes met for the first time that day, but they didn't speak.
Jack did indeed offer a part to Eric & Three months after the audition Eric started in Youth Takes a Bow ( a variety style stageshow ) , two months later Ernie joined the show , Eric was 13 & Ernie 14.
The show was in two sections, the first part featured adults, one of which was Harmonica player Arthur Tolcher, who I'm sure you will remember as the hapless Harmonica player that was always unceremoniously thrown off many Morecambe & Wise TV shows .. The boys looked after their own !!.
Eric thought Ernie a show-off & didn't particularly take to him. Sadie (Eric's mother) travelled wit �30.00 per show.
It was about this time that Ernie married dancer Doreen Blythe & then Eric married Joan Bartlett (Ernie was best man).These proved to be marriages for life (unlike most of todays 'stars').
At the end of 1953 they had a brief TV appearance on a variety show , the race was on to sign them !!!.
They were appearing at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool when Ronnie Waldman of the BBC light entertainment department offered them their own TV series , "Ernie & I looked at each other & said, Well do it !".
At 21:00 on 25th April 1954 The first 'Running Wild' show was aired live from the Television Theatre Shepards Bush there were 6 episodes & it was a complete disaster. Both the public & press savaged them, here's an exert from The People Newspaper :->
Definition of the week : TV set = The box in which they Buried Morecambe & Wise.
Eric never forgot this & until the sad day of his death carried the cutting around with him. He said a little later , "Those critics .. they broke my heart, my wives heart & my partners heart !.
The show was totally controlled by SUITS at the BBC .. it was a valuable lesson for Eric & Ernie, they would never relinquish control again.
Very lean & humiliating times followed, they had gone from Top Stars to scrounging round for work & having to settle, at times for fourth place on the bill. With tremendous loving support from their wives & Sadie, they managed to pick themselves up & with hard work & sheer determination, they bounced back.
Between 21st April 1956 & 23rd June 1956 they appeared as resident comic's on The Winifred Atwell Show on ITV ... They had full control of their act which was written by comedy genius 'Johnny Speight',(writer of till death us do part etc). The public & critics alike loved their part in the show & grew to love them (as we do now !).
From 11 August 1957 - 8th September 1957 (Sunday's) they hosted a TV revue show called 'Double Six'. Then at last, due to huge public demand, on 12th October 1961 the first Morecambe & Wise Show was aired under the name 'Two of a kind' ..... and the rest, I'm glad to say is history.
Between 12th October 1961 & 26th December 1983 they recorded over 169 TV shows + 3 Feature Films (not including 'Night Train To Murder'), the highlight being the 1977 Christmas Special which pulled in a record audience of 28 MILLION viewers !.
Eric & Ernie were awarded an OBE in 1976.
On 28th May 1984 just after coming off the stage of a charity show in Gloucester, Eric had a massive heart attack & died ... the sunshine had gone forever !!!, the world without him is a much sadder place.
A while ago the BBC celebrated it's 60th birthday by asking the public to vote for their favourite performers of all time. Eric & Ernie together won . Favourite Light Entertainment Series & Favourite Light Entertainment Performers.
This 22 years after Eric's death .. we the British public really did love them.
I would also personally like to congratulate the boys as they were given THE FELLOWSHIP AWARD, at the 1999 BAFTA's which was touchingly collected by their wives.
Name : John Eric Bartholomew.
Born : 12:30 P.M. 14th May 1926.
Home Town : Morecambe... A North Lancashire Seaside Resort .. UK.
Farther : George Bartholomew..... Labourer for the Morecambe & Heysham Corporation.
Mother : Sadie (Sarah) Bartholomew... Cotton Weaver, Usher & Waitress.
Brothers : None.
Sisters : None.
Children : Gary, an accomplished author, who I thank for giving me an insight into the man &
for writing with such passion that I have been regularly moved to tears & laughter.
: Gail, a volunteer for Victim support whilst she was a volunteer for V.S her job was as an NNEB in both nursery and pre-prep education. she also taught art and music. BUT, now I she has her own greetings card business, called Morecambe Moments, see link at top of page..
: Steven, the youngest.
: Gails Children - Adam (see very moving quote at the end) & Amelia.
: Garys Children - Jack, Henry, Arthur & Dereka.
John Eric Bartholomew (Eric Morecambe), was born on 14th May 1926 at 42 Buxton Street ( a neighbours house) the Bartholomews actually lived at 48 Buxton Street.
Eric could walk at 10 month's, talk at 12 month's & sing entire songs at 14 month's. At the age of 3 years Eric was regularly entertaining Family & Friends.
Eric hated school so his mother (Sadie), desperate (not Des 'o' Connor) for her son to make his mark, encouraged him into a showbiz career. She took on many extra jobs to send Eric to Singing & Dancing lessons .. one of these extra jobs was as usherette on Morecambe's Central Pier Theatre.
Eric was excited & driven by the fact that Stan Laurel came from 'Ulverstone', which is just a stonesthrow from Morecambe.
The young Eric had calling cards made up to promote his 'show' :
MASTER ERIC BARTHOLOMEW
VOCAL COMEDY & DANCING
Sadie encouraged Eric to enter a series of talent contests, of these we know he won at least three .. here's a copy of a local press revue of the time :
MORECAMBE BOY FIRST
A show within a show was staged at the Arcadian Theatre on Saturday night when the final of the talent spotting competition took place.
The standard of local talent was suprisingly high & the audience enjoyed it immensely. It was only after considerable difficulty that Peter Bernard, one of the artists in the variety show, was able to select the three winners, who were chosen by the applause the audience gave them.
First prize was won by the Morecambe boy, Eric Bartholomew, whose singing of 'I'm not all there' really got the crowd going.
Soon Eric had more bookings than he could handle. One of the high points of his act (as you can see from above) was a rendition of the comedy song ' I'm not all there'.
In early 1939 Sadie took Eric to the Kingsway Cinema in Hoylake near Birkenhead for the Lancashire & Cheshire area heat of a national search for talent competition, organised by 'The Melody Maker' ... again Eric won ... here's a press revue of his performance :
There are a hundred competitors in the area & the ten finalists appeared at the Kingsway Cinema, Hoylake, a week ago. Eric Bartholomew put over a brilliant comedy act which caused the audience to roar with laughter. In an interview, he said, 'My ambition is to become a comedian. My hero is George Formby'.
Eric's prize was an audition with Bandleader & Showman Jack Hylton, in Manchester. A young man called Ernie Wise was in the audience ( acting as Jack's advisor ), it was Eric & Ernie's first meeting, they didn't speak. Both Jack Hylton & Ernie were impressed with Eric.
About three months later Jack Hylton offered Eric a part in the show ' Youths Takes a Bow', Eric accepted & started immediately . Two months later Ernie joined the cast ... For full Double Act Biog see Eric 'n' Ernie Biog in Main Menu.
Eric married Joan Barlett on 11th December 1952, they enjoyed a very happy life together & had 2 children .. Gary & Gail ... Eric always loved Joan, proving it in many ways. On the day after Gary was born, Eric went outside & mixed some concrete, he then proceeded to write JOAN, THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU, apparently this was only one of many romantic acts ... how lucky they both where !!. Ernie was best man at the wedding.
On 28th May 1984 just after coming off stage of a charity show at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury U.K. Eric collapsed with a huge heart attack, he was rushed to hospital. Laying in bed unconscious , the nurse advised Joan that trying to wake him may help, she shouted loudly at him, though he didn't open his eyes, he squeezed her hand, then became still ... at just before 4:00 A.M. .... the Sunshine had gone. I like to think that the squeezing of her hand was Eric saying to Joan 'It's all right & I Love You .....
Eric's 3 year old grandson (Gails Son), Adam was quoted as saying
"Does that mean there wont be anymore magic".
Ernie on Eric's Death :
"It's the saddest day of my life .. I feel like I've lost a limb, I have been robbed of a partner & brother, there is a cold draught down one side of me where Eric should be".
Joan on the public's reaction :
"I was just so overwhelmed at the reaction from everybody, that they should feel so much grief for someone who wasn't really a member of their family - and yet they all felt he was".
Joan's reaction I have not heard of & can't even imagine ... suffice to say even after all these years I send my condolences & hopefully those of all who read this page.
The Funeral :
The funeral was held at The Church of St Nicholas in Harpenden, on Monday 4th June 1984 ... even though it was a very sad occasion it turned into a celebration of Eric's life .. a while before, Eric had written to Dickie Henderson & asked him to read at his funeral ... "I would like to be cremated & my favourite music is 'Smoke gets in your eyes' ", even in the face of death Eric could joke.
More than 1000 members of the public came to pay their respects.
Ernie fought back the tears to read the lyrics of 'Bring Me Sunshine'.
Ernie's floral tribute read .. 'Goodbye Sunshine, Miss You, Your Little Fat Friend'.
Eric's ashes were scattered in the Churches Gardens Of Remembrance.
I would like to offer my very belated condolences & hopefully the condolences of all visitors to this website, to Joan, Gary , Gail , Steven & all the Morecambe family.
God Bless You Eric .
AN EQUAL TALENT IN THE DOUBLE ACT - FACT !!!
Ernest Wiseman OBE (27 November 1925 – 21 March 1999), known by his stage name Ernie Wise, was an English comedian, best known as one half of the comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, who became an institution on British television, especially for their Christmas specials. Ernest Wiseman was the eldest of five children, and changed his name (as did his future partner) to go into show business. He attended first Thorpe infant and junior school, and then East Ardsley Boys' School, but entered the entertainment industry in 1933, appearing as an actor and singer in music hall. His father, Harry, a railway lamp man, was also a semi-professional singer, and they appeared together under the name "Bert Carson and his Little Wonder". He started making solo appearances—singing, dancing, and telling jokes—in 1936, and, in autumn of 1938 he came to the attention of Bryan Michie, a leading juvenile talent spotter, who recommended him to the impresario Jack Hylton.
In 1940, the year he first met Eric Morecambe, then known as Eric Bartholomew, he appeared with British comedian Arthur Askey in his Band Waggon radio show, billed as Britain's Mickey Rooney. Gradually, Wise and Morecambe formed a close friendship, and, in 1941, they began their comedy double act, which was to last until Morecambe's death in 1984. They made their début together as "Bartholomew and Wise", on 28 August 1941 at the Liverpool Empire. A change of name followed in the autumn: after agreeing that the combination of their respective places of birth—Morecambe and Leeds—would make the act sound too much like a cheap day return, they settled on 'Morecambe and Wise'. During World War II, Morecambe was a Bevin Boy, working down a coal mine at Accrington and Wise served in the Merchant Navy, from the end of 1943. They were reunited after the war and made their name in radio, transferring to television in April 1954, in their first series, Running Wild, which was a disaster. In 1961 they gained their own series on ATV, which was a success and raised their profile. They transferred to the BBC in 1968. Over a period of over twenty years, Morecambe and Wise had regular series with both ITV and BBC. In 1976, they were both appointed OBEs. Wise was commonly regarded as the straight man of the partnership, although his role gradually and subtly changed over the years. When Eddie Braben took over as their chief writer, he enriched Wise's persona by making him pompous and naive. Wise's character changed from being a conventional straight man into a pretentious and self-satisfied idiot. Braben also made Wise a would-be writer; their BBC shows in the 1970s would always climax with an extended sketch, introduced by Wise as "a play what I wrote." It was in such a 'play' that Glenda Jackson, at the height of her career, was made to speak the line "All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got."
After Morecambe's death from a third heart attack on 28 May 1984, Ernie Wise spent some of his time at Boca Raton, Florida, where he had a holiday home. In the UK, he lived in Thorpe Avenue, Peterborough for many years next door to singer Edmund Hockridge, before moving to a luxury home on the banks of the River Thames in Maidenhead, Berkshire. He made the first mobile phone call in the UK on 1 January 1985 from St Katherine's Dock, East London, to Vodafone's Headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire. Wise appeared regularly as a panellist on the ITV revival of the popular panel show What's My Line? He was a guest several times on Countdown, had a gardening column in the News of the World newspaper and also appeared in several West End plays. He gave talks on cruises about his life as half of one of the most successful and popular comedy double acts of all time. In 1990, he wrote his autobiography, Still On My Way to Hollywood. His 1992 Christmas single was a recommended retail release in Music Week. Wise was also an active and long-time participant in the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. On 14 May 1994, the BBC aired the first of three episodes of a mini-series called Bring Me Sunshine, as a tribute to Eric Morecambe. It was hosted by Ben Elton, who is a huge fan of Morecambe and Wise, and who cites the duo as a big influence on his career. Those interviewed were John Thaw, Roy Castle, Diana Rigg, Hale & Pace and Fry & Laurie. Wise was not asked to participate as the BBC said that they did not want "Too many talking heads". He was, however, recovering from a minor stroke at the time, so that was probably a factor.[original research?] Wise suffered a second minor stroke in August 1995, and as a result, announced his retirement from show business on 27 November 1995, his 70th birthday. In the autumn of 1998, Wise was asked by the BBC to take part in Bring Me Sunshine: The Heart and Soul of Eric Morecambe, which was shown on 23 December. He had agreed to do so, but his health had begun to deteriorate further. Earlier that month, Wise suffered two heart attacks within a week while on holiday, and had to undergo a triple heart bypass in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 22 January 1999. In March 1999, he was flown back to RAF Northolt, in London, by air ambulance and taken directly to the Nuffield Hospital at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
Ernie Wise died from heart failure and a chest infection at the Nuffield Hospital on the morning of 21 March 1999. He was cremated on 30 March, at Slough. Michael Grade, Rolf Harris, Angela Rippon and Frank Bough attended, along with the family of Eric Morecambe. Wise was married to the dancer Doreen Blythe from 18 January 1953 until his death; they had no children.
In December 2008, it was reported that a statue of Wise would be built in his home town of Morley, West Yorkshire, commissioned by the Morley Murals Committee and funded by his widow, Doreen. On 23 September 2009, it was announced that the statue would be completed by the middle of November and unveiled in his home town of Morley on what would have been his 84th birthday, 27 November 2009. However, by December of that year it was still lacking the fine finishing details and was now expected to be unveiled in January 2010, to mark the beginning of the new decade. The statue was finally set in place on Sunday 21 February 2010, with the official unveiling completed, by Doreen Wise, on 4 March 2010
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