Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 12:50 UK
Tommy Cooper - Just Like That!
Tommy Cooper
Deliberate or not, Cooper's failed tricks made him a comic legend

The legendary comedian and magician will be fondly remembered on the twenty fifth anniversary of his death.

Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly where he lived until the age of three, when his family moved to Exeter.

After leaving school he trained as an apprentice shipwright in Southampton before joining the army.

During the Second World War he was posted to Egypt, where he began entertaining his fellow troops and picked up his trademark hat - the fez.

Tommy Cooper plays tricks on BBC announcer McDonald Hobley at a televised Christmas party in 1952.
Cooper plays tricks on BBC announcer McDonald Hobley at a televised Christmas party in 1952

Returning home after being demobbed in 1947, he plied his trade in theatres and variety clubs before making his first TV appearance.

Cooper soon became a hit with the viewing public through his combination of comic timing, panicky appearance and failed tricks.

But those who worked with him said he was never happier than when performing before a live audience.

Few will forget the day - 15 April 1984 - when Cooper collapsed on stage during a live TV broadcast from Her Majesty's Theatre in London.

Efforts to revive him failed, and Britain lost one of its best loved and most original entertainers.

In 1998 Cooper received the rare honour of a postage stamp featuring a caricature by cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

The life of Tommy Cooper has also been celebrated in two very different plays.

Sir Anthony cracked Cooper gags as well as impersonating the comic
Sir Anthony cracked Cooper gags as well as impersonating the comic

A fictionalised account called Just Like That? told of his his uneasy relationship with Frankie Lyons, with whom he'd formed a double act during his army days. The play portrayed Cooper as a bully who'd been forced by senior officers to team up with Lyons and objected to sharing the limelight.

Jerome Flynn has donned the fez to portray the comic genius in a more flattering tribute, Cooper! Not Like That, Like This.

In a more lasting tribute, a bronze statue of the town's most famous son was unveiled in Caerphilly by Sir Anthony Hopkins in February 2008.

Share your memories of Tommy Cooper - send them by email to wales.southeast@bbc.co.uk



SEE ALSO
Tommy Cooper statue is unveiled
23 Feb 08 |  Wales
Fez-tival atmosphere at unveiling
23 Feb 08 |  Wales

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