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Tributes paid to 'genius' Norman Wisdom

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Comedian and Actor Norman Wisdom

© WENN

Sir Norman Wisdom has been labelled as a "comic genius" by friends and colleagues, who paid tribute to him following his death yesterday.

The actor, who started his film career in 1948 and became famous for a string of slapstick characters in the 1950s, passed away at Abbotswood Nursing Home on the Isle of Man.

A number of collaborators publicly praised Wisdom today, as Sir Tim Rice called him "a brilliant slapstick performer in the Charlie Chaplin mould".

The lyricist, who worked with Wisdom on a song called 'Big in Albania', said of the collaboration: "He was well into his 80s and he was playing the clown and a very funny clown almost all the time.

"He would run up escalators the wrong way, he would fall down stairs, crack jokes and at almost every meal burst into 'Don't Laugh At Me 'Cos I'm A Fool', his big hit from the '50s."

Rice added: "He was supremely professional and he was extremely good at what he did."

Jan Kennedy, from Billy Marsh Associates - the agency which discovered Wisdom over 50 years ago - said that the actor was "simply a beloved comic genius".

"His whole personality projected a childlike warmth and innocent appeal that touched the hearts of everyone," Kennedy added.

"Norman literally made audiences worldwide cry with laughter, and his endearing talents live on through the universal happiness of his films and recordings."

Wisdom's agent of over 30 years Johnny Mans told Sky News: "He was a friend as well as someone who I have worked with over the years.

"He was never, ever big-headed. He was a man of the people. He was always a naughty little boy, but that was Norman."

Albanian ambassador Zef Mazi also praised the comedian, who was a cult figure in the Eastern European country.

"After Charlie Chaplin, he was the biggest comedy star in Albania," Mazi said. "I still remember his character Pitkin and his boss Mr Grimsdale.

"He was very popular with everyone from very young people to very old people and he made us laugh at a time, in the communist period, when there were not many reasons to laugh."

Head of BBC Comedy Mark Freeland said that Wisdom was "one of the most enduring and endearing faces of British comedy".

Freeland explained: "Sir Norman's diminutive characters were always underpinned by a sensitivity and charm that so wonderfully communicated to audiences the plight of the underdog."

No details have yet been released regarding Wisdom's funeral arrangements.

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