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1999: Comedy genius Ernie Wise dies
One of Britain's most loved and most successful comedians, Ernie Wise, has died aged 73.

The news of his death at about 0700 GMT in the Nuffield Hospital, in Wexham Park, near Slough, has plunged the world of show business into mourning.

He was being cared for at the hospital after returning to the UK this month following a triple bypass operation in Florida in January.

It is understood the hospital reported he was well at 0615 but Mrs Wise was called 15 minutes later because his condition had deteriorated.

By the time she arrived at his bedside, her husband of 46 years, had died.

We have had ups and downs for quite a while, but he is finally gone
Doreen Wise
His illness began when he fell ill at his holiday home in Boca Raton, on Florida's east coast, days after celebrating his birthday in November last year.

He suffered two heart attacks within a week and spent almost three weeks in intensive care, before undergoing the six-and-a-half hour triple heart bypass operation.

Two weeks ago the star, who shared a mansion on the River Thames with his wife at Maidenhead, Berkshire, was flown back from the US by air ambulance.

Born Ernie Wiseman, he forged his comedy partnership with Eric Bartholomew when he was 16, in the 1940s.

But Wiseman and Bartholomew was too long for bright-lights and billboards and they renamed as Morecambe and Wise.

For four decades, the duo whose Christmas specials became a national institution, captured the public's affection with a mix of self-deprecating charm and schoolboy humour.

They were both awarded OBEs in 1976.

Their theme tune was Bring Me Sunshine but the final curtain came with Morecambe's death in Gloucestershire from heart failure in May 1984, aged 57.

Ernie described it as the saddest day of his life.

Wise's death comes just days after that of 71-year-old Sid Green, co-writer of classic sketches for Morecambe and Wise.

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Ernie (l) with his comedy partner Eric Morecombe
Eric and Ernie were given OBE's in 1976

The life and career of Ernie Wise

In Context
Morecambe and Wise were a comedy legend for generations of people in Britain and have continued to be remembered and honoured since their deaths.

They were honoured with posthumous fellowships at the British Academy Television Awards.

The Queen unveiled a statue of Eric Morecambe in the resort in Lancashire from which the comedian took his name.

And a popular play, The Play What I Wrote, inspired by the comedy pair and devised by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley, was taken across Britain in 2002. Performances included surprise guest appearances much like in the original shows.

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