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Harry Corbett
Born 28 January 1918(1918-01-28)
Bradford, West Yorkshire
Died 17 August 1989 (aged 71)
Dorset
Occupation Puppeteer
Years active 1940s-1970s

Harry Corbett OBE[1] (28 January 1918 Bradford, West Yorkshire — 17 August 1989) was an English puppeteer, known as the creator in 1948 of the long-running 'Sooty' glove puppet character. His parents were James W. Corbett, a coal miner, and his wife Florence, née Ramsden.

Deafness in one ear precluded Corbett from pursuing his musical ambitions although he did have a spell playing piano in the world famous Guiseley fish and chip restaurant owned by his mother's brother Harry Ramsden. His parents also had a fish and chip business in Guiseley called Springfields, which is still open today opposite Morrisons in the town.[2]

In order to entertain his children whilst on holiday in Blackpool in 1948, he bought the original glove puppet, then called Teddy, in a novelty shop on the end of the resort's North Pier for 7 shillings and 6 pence (equiv 37.5np).

His first appearance with the silent Sooty was in a 1952 BBC TV show called Talent Night. He was then given a part in Peter Butterworth's TV show Saturday Special. He soon gained his own show and was a regular favourite throughout the 1950s and 1960s. His show would combine simple magic tricks with slapstick comedy in which Sooty usually poured liquid over or attacked Corbett.

After suffering a heart attack at Christmas 1975, his younger son, Matthew Corbett, took over, eventually buying out his father for £35,000. Harry continued his one-man stage show even after he gave up his TV appearances and he died in his sleep on 17 August 1989 after playing to a capacity audience at Weymouth Pavilion.

Corbett and his wife Marjorie lived in the Dorset village of Child Okeford for most of their married life.

Contents

Catchphrases

  • "Izzy wizzy, let's get busy"
  • "Bye bye everybody! Bye bye!"

OBE

In 1976, Prime Minister Harold Wilson wished to have Steptoe and Son actor Harry H. Corbett awarded an OBE, but the middle initial "H" was lost in the bureaucratic process, and the award went to Harry Corbett instead.

References

Bibliography








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