Biography

The immensely popular British comedian Norman Wisdom came to films after headlining postwar English music halls. Wisdom had developed his standard characterization as a clumsy cockney with his traditional costume of cloth cap and tight clothes long before his first film, Trouble in Store (1953). Wisdom's comedy films were so low budget that they appeared to have been filmed in someone's basement, but each one of them made a fortune. Like Jerry Lewis, Wisdom would punctuate his slapstick set pieces with excessive doses of pathos (frequently screaming and crying in his efforts to pluck your heartstrings), and also like Lewis, Wisdom was reliant upon a tall straight man, the sober-sided Jerry Desmonde. Comparatively little known outside Britain, Norman Wisdom won the hearts of Broadway-ites by starring in a 1966 musical version of H.G. Wells' Kipps titled Walking Happy; and in 1967, Wisdom scored as a bethumped burlesque comedian (teamed with Jason Robards Jr.) in the American film The Night They Raided Minsky's. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi