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Ken Dodd

Ken Dodd

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Also Known As: Kenneth Arthur Dodd Died:
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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A "comic's comic" for more than six decades, Sir Kenneth Dodd, OBE, better known to generations of British audiences as Ken Dodd, was a tireless and much loved stage and television performer who regaled audiences with an act comprised of countless one-liners and which ran, at times, for hours at length. Born Kenneth Arthur Dodd on November 8, 1927 in a former farmhouse located in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, he attended school for a brief period before joining his father, Arthur, to work in the local coalmines. Dodd's life would take a significant turn when, as a teenager, he saw an advertisement for an instructional book on ventriloquism. He learned the technique, and with a dummy named Charlie Brown that his father had bought for him, began performing at local community functions. From his late teens to his mid-twenties, Dodd supported himself as a traveling salesman, peddling his own brand of disinfectant door to door while performing at night on the club and hotel circuit. His professional debut came in September 1954 as Professor Yaffle Chucklebutty, Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter, at the Nottingham Empire theater, and soon settled into eight years of steady performances in the...

A "comic's comic" for more than six decades, Sir Kenneth Dodd, OBE, better known to generations of British audiences as Ken Dodd, was a tireless and much loved stage and television performer who regaled audiences with an act comprised of countless one-liners and which ran, at times, for hours at length. Born Kenneth Arthur Dodd on November 8, 1927 in a former farmhouse located in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, he attended school for a brief period before joining his father, Arthur, to work in the local coalmines. Dodd's life would take a significant turn when, as a teenager, he saw an advertisement for an instructional book on ventriloquism. He learned the technique, and with a dummy named Charlie Brown that his father had bought for him, began performing at local community functions. From his late teens to his mid-twenties, Dodd supported himself as a traveling salesman, peddling his own brand of disinfectant door to door while performing at night on the club and hotel circuit. His professional debut came in September 1954 as Professor Yaffle Chucklebutty, Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter, at the Nottingham Empire theater, and soon settled into eight years of steady performances in the seaside towns of Blackpool and Bournemouth, among others. Dodd's stage act--a barrage of one-liner jokes, interspersed with songs and ventriloquism, and often marked by the appearance of children or little people in the guise of the mythological "Diddy Men"--proved exceptionally popular with working class and highbrow critics alike, and in the 1960s, he was performing twice nightly at the London Palladium, hosting his own television series, "The Ken Dodd Show" (BBC, 1959-1969) and enjoying a string of Top 40 singles on the UK charts, including "Tears" (1965), which unseated the Beatles to claim the No. 1 spot and sold more than a million copies. His tenure at the Palladium ran for 42 weeks, and the shows themselves stretched beyond conceivable ideas of a comedy performance: Dodd could perform for three to four hours at a time, and actually entered the Guinness Book of Records in the mid-'60s for telling 1,500 jokes in a three-and-a-half-hour show at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Despite his anarchic stage presence, Dodd was a serious student of stage acting and comedy, and made a well-received debut as Malvolio in a 1971 production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," but his vaudevillian act and television remained his primary showcase for decades, even when audience interest began to wane in the 1980s. His career was briefly derailed at the end of the decade when he was charged with tax evasion. During the course of the five-week trial, Dodd was pained to reveal much of his personal life: he lived frugally, and kept what little money he had in suitcases and boxes throughout his home. He eventually cleared himself the Inland Revenue, and to his surprise, found himself in demand again as a performer on stage and screen. A pair of specials for ITV titled "An Audience with Ken Dodd" in 1994 and 2002 underscored his beloved status with audiences, and he gave impressive turns as Yorick in Kenneth Branagh's film version of "Hamlet" (1996), as the Mouse in an NBC miniseries adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" (1999), and as the voice of the Canon in an Emmy-winning animated series based on "The Canterbury Tales" (BBC, 1999-2000). His lengthy career also received numerous tributes during this period, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ITV British Comedy Awards in 1993 and honorary degrees from the University Chester and Liverpool John Moores University. In the new millennium, Dodd was made a Freeman of the City of Liverpool and voted the greatest Merseysider (Liverpudlian) shortly before a bronze statue of him was unveiled in the Lime Street Railway station. Having been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1982, Dodd was knighted in the 2017 New Years Honors, and gave his final performance at the Echo Arena Auditorium in Liverpool on December 28, 2017. Less than three months later, Dodd died in his home--the same home he had been born in nine decades prior--on March 11, 2018 after a lengthy hospitalization for a chest infection. His passing earned numerous tributes from fans across the United Kingdom, including fellow Liverpudlian and lifelong fan Sir Paul McCartney.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Alice in Wonderland (1999) Mr Mouse
2.
 Hamlet (1996) Yorich
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Milestones close milestones

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Made professional debut at the Nottingham Empire theater
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Made professional debut at the Nottingham Empire theater
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Topped the UK charts with his single "Tears"
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Played Malvolio in a production of "Twelfth Night"
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Made an Officer of the British Empire
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Rebounded, post-tax evasion trial, with the first of two "An Audience with Ken Dodd" specials
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Knighted as part of the New Years Honors
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