Harry Corbett

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For the English actor, see Harry H. Corbett.
Harry Corbett
Born (1918-01-28)28 January 1918
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 17 August 1989(1989-08-17) (aged 71)
Weymouth, Dorset, England, UK
Occupation Puppeteer
Years active 1940s–1970s
Children Matthew Corbett, David Corbett

Harry Corbett OBE[1] (28 January 1918 Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire — 17 August 1989) was an English puppeteer who created the 'Sooty' glove puppet character in 1948.

Corbett was born in Bradford to 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 played the piano in the Guiseley fish and chip restaurant owned by his mother's brother Harry Ramsden. His parents had a fish and chip business in Guiseley called Springfield, which remains open and now known as Midgley's.[2]

In order to entertain his children while on holiday in Blackpool in 1948, he bought the original yellow bear glove puppet, then called Teddy, in a novelty shop on the end of the resort's North Pier for seven shillings and six pence (7s/6d) (equivalent 37½p). Later he used soot to blacken its ears and nose, hence the name "Sooty".

His first appearance with the silent Sooty was in a 1952 BBC TV show, Talent Night. He was given a part in Peter Butterworth's TV show Saturday Special. He soon had his own show and was a regular favourite throughout the 1950s and '60s. His show combined simple magic tricks with slapstick comedy in which Sooty usually poured liquid over or attacked Corbett.

After he suffered a heart attack at Christmas 1975, his younger son, Peter (stage name Matthew), took over, buying out his father for £35,000.[citation needed] Harry continued his one man stage show 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 in Weymouth, Dorset.

He married Marjorie Hodgson in 1944. Corbett and his wife lived in the Dorset village of Child Okeford for most of their married life.

Catchphrases[edit]

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

OBE[edit]

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.[3] Both were awarded the OBE on 1 January 1976, Harry Corbett being cited "for charitable services".[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Television Heaven:Sooty
  2. ^ "Guiseley chip shop wraps up place in TV show". Retrieved 2008-05-11.  (Wharfedale Observer)
  3. ^ The Honours Game, Gyles Brandreth
  4. ^ "Viewing Page 10 of Issue 46777". London-gazette.co.uk. 1975-12-30. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 

Bibliography[edit]