British comic actor Norman Wisdom buried

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British comic actor Norman Wisdom was laid to rest on Friday in a funeral that far exceeded his joke request to be thrown into the sea.

Wisdom, 95, who gained a big international following for his slapstick film roles, was buried 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.

More than 600 people, including showbiz friends, packed into St George's Church for the funeral service.

Mourners had travelled from across the globe to pay their respects.

"Today is definitely a celebration," Nicholas Wisdom told Britain's domestic Press Association news agency.

"I met somebody at the bar last night who came all the way from Albuquerque (New Mexico)."

Asked what his father might think of the funeral arrangements, he said: "I think he'd be extremely pleased, but he wouldn't admit it. He'd be delighted."

Wisdom passed away peacefully in a Manx nursing home 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 in his trademark cloth cap and ill-fitting jacket.

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

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