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Sunday, September 5, 1999 Published at 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK


Entertainment

Secombe bows out of limelight

Sir Harry has been one of Britain's best-loved entertainers

Sir Harry Secombe announced his retirement from showbiz at a charity golf tournament, which could have been his last public appearance.

The 78-year-old entertainer from Swansea made his announcement at a special event marking the end of the Harry Secombe Golf Classic, which has run for 32 years.

Sir Harry, who has prostate cancer and diabetes and who recently suffered a stroke, said he would no longer be performing or making regular appearances.

"I'm lucky to be alive," he said.

Goon star

Sir Harry, nowadays best known for presenting Songs of Praise on BBC One, looked thin and frail as he joined celebrity friends on the putting green at Effingham Golf Club in Surrey.

He has been one of Britain's best-loved entertainers since he rose to prominence on the BBC radio comedy series The Goon Show, and was knighted in 1981.

When asked if he would be appearing in public again, he said: "It depends how I feel in future. I'll have to take it as it comes."

But he added: "I won't be performing again."

Comedian, singer and actor

The Goon Show, which also starred Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine, was first broadcast in 1949, and enjoyed an 11-year run.

Sir Harry later became known as a singer and frequently appeared at the London Palladium between 1956 to 1966.

He appeared in several films during the 70s, including the musical Oliver! in which he played Mr Bumble.

More recently, he presented the Sunday night religious programme Highway on ITV.

He has also been involved in charity work for organisations including the Army Benevolent Fund and the Stars Organisation for Spastics.

In May this year, he was unable to attend a special concert in Cardiff to mark the opening of the National Assembly. However, a video message from him was relayed to the thousands of people at the event in Cardiff Bay.

'Vibrant personality'

The Harry Secombe classic was first held at Ifield in 1967, and has since raised £250,000 for the physically and mentally disabled.

Sir Harry's friends sang his praises as they lined up to play their holes.

Actor James Bolam said: "He's so loved, not just in the business as a whole, but in each part of it, as a comedian and a singer. He's a wonderful, vibrant personality."

Event organiser Brian Donnachie said he hoped the Harry Secombe classic, organised by the Lord's Taverners, would eventually be replaced by another annual fixture.

"It may happen again in a different form, ideally with another big celebrity giving it his backing."





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