From Yahoo News:
LONDON (AFP) – British comic actor Norman Wisdom, who gained a huge following for his slapstick film roles in his trademark cloth cap and ill-fitting jacket, has died at the age of 95, his family said. Wisdom passed away peacefully Monday in a nursing home on the Isle of Man 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." 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 mobbed by fans when he visited Albania in 1995 after the fall of communism.
Zef Mazi, Albania's ambassador to London, said news of Wisdom's death was dominating the media back home. "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."
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 Pitkin as an underdog battling adversity. Wisdom also sang, danced and played musical instruments, but it was his comedy that won the hearts of millions."My comedy is for children from three to 93. You do need a slightly childish sense of humour and if you haven't got that, it's very sad," he once said.
After a poverty-stricken childhood in London, Wisdom joined the army as a boy, giving him proper meals for the first time and allowing him to develop his talent for entertainment.His family paid tribute to a "much-loved father and grandfather."
"Over the last six months Norman has sustained a series of strokes causing a general decline in both his physical and mental health," they said in a statement. "Over the last few days his condition rapidly declined. He was in no pain or distress."
Johnny Mans, his agent for more than 30 years, said Wisdom's death was "absolutely devastating."
"He was never, ever big-headed -- he was always a man of the people. He was always a naughty little boy, but that was Norman," he told Sky News television. Jan Kennedy, managing director of Billy Marsh Associates, the agency which discovered Wisdom, paid tribute to a "beloved comic genius." "His whole personality projected a child-like warmth and innocent appeal that touched the hearts of everyone. Norman literally made audiences worldwide cry with laughter," she said.
Wisdom was born on February 4, 1915. His parents, a chauffeur and a dressmaker, divorced when he was nine and he was brought up by his abusive father. Money was often so short that Wisdom was forced to steal food. He left school at 13 and took a job as an errand boy and later joined the army. While performing a comedy boxing routine in an army gym, he discovered a talent for entertainment, and began to work on it. Leaving the army in 1946, Wisdom made his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31.
His rise to the top was phenomenally fast. He was a West End star within two years, made his television debut the same year and was soon commanding enormous audiences. He finally retired on his 90th birthday. Mark Freeland, head of BBC Comedy, said Wisdom was "one of the most enduring and endearing faces of British comedy." He added: "Sir Norman's diminutive characters were always underpinned by a sensitivity and charm that so wonderfully communicated to audiences the plight of the underdog."
Wisdom was married twice and had two children with his second wife, Freda Simpson, who was a dancer. They divorced in 1969.
I haven't been so upset since Groucho died. I know we're all mortal, but Sir Norman made me laugh.