British comic actor Norman Wisdom given serious send-off
British comic actor Norman Wisdom was fondly remembered Friday in a funeral that far exceeded his joke request to be simply thrown into the sea.
Wisdom, 95, who gained a big international following for his slapstick film roles, was given a big send-off on the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency in the Irish Sea, where he spent much of his later life.
His son Nicholas said his father had remarked: "Just chuck me off the end of the pier."
But hundreds of people lined the seafront promenade in the Manx capital Douglas to applaud the horse-drawn cortege.
His trademark flat cap rested on top of his coffin.
More than 600 people, including friends from the showbusiness world, packed into St George's Church for the funeral service.
"Today is definitely a celebration," Nicholas Wisdom said.
"I think he'd be extremely pleased, but he wouldn't admit it. He'd be delighted."
Remembering one of his father's catchphrases, he told the church service: "Perhaps for his family and his many friends and fans around the world, they are the true 'Lucky Little Devils' because they shared his love and enthusiasm for life, which made him the unique person he was."
He will be buried in a private ceremony on Saturday.
Wisdom passed away peacefully in a nursing home on the Isle of Man on October 4 after suffering a series of strokes in recent months.
Tributes poured in for the star, one of Britain's most popular post-World War II comedians, whom Charlie Chaplin once described as his "favourite clown."
Wisdom rose to stardom with a string of hits in the 1950s and 1960s, such as "Trouble in Store" and "A Stitch in Time", which usually involved his cheery character Norman Pitkin as an underdog battling adversity.
He appeared in 19 films and numerous television comedy series. He was honoured with a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
In a bizarre twist to his career, he became a cult figure in communist Albania where he was the only Western actor whose films were allowed to be shown during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha.
Wisdom was married twice and had two children with his second wife, dancer Freda Simpson. They divorced in 1969.
© 2010 AFP