Ken Dodd, 1927 – Present
Ken Dodd is probably one of the last of the legendary Great British Comics and Entertainers (this catagory would include Tommy Cooper, Norman Wisdom, Les Dawson, Bruce Forsyth etc). Even today at the age of 83 he still tours the country performing live to sell out crowds. Ken Dodd shows sell out in minutes but last and last until someone pushes him off stage “One thing about my shows folks, you always go home in the daylight” he once quipped.
Born Kenneth Arthur Dodd on 8th November 1927 in Knotty Ash, Liverpool. He was the son of a coal merchant, Arthur Dodd and wife Sarah. He attended Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St Johns Church, Knotty Ash. It is said that he got his famous buck teeth aged seven when he was dared by his school friends to ride his bike with his eyes shut. He accepted the dare, crashed, and received facial injuries which resulted in his distinctive buck teeth.
Attending Holt High School, a Grammar School in Childwall, he left at age fourteen to work for his father. It was around this time he became interested in showbusiness after seeing an advert in a comic entitled; “Fool Your Teachers, Amaze Your Friends — Send 6d in Stamps and Become a Ventriloquist!” and sending off for the book. Not long after, his father bought him a ventriloquist’s dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions.
Dodd has had two long term fiancees, but never married.
In 1989 Ken Dodd was famously charged with Tax Evasion in a very public court case, lasting three weeks, leading to his acquittal.
Ken Dodd got his big break at age twenty-six when, in September 1954, he made his professional show-business debut at the now-demolished Nottingham Empire. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar for most of the afternoon, going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. He later said, “Well at least they didn’t boo me off”. He continued to perform, eventually topping the bill at Blackpool in 1958.
Ken Dodd has appeared on countless variety shows and has toured almost constantly since he found fame. However he is not just a comedian, Ken has had nineteen top forty singles including the million seller Tears which topped the UK chart in 1965 for five weeks and has sold over 100 million records worldwide. He has also had occasional Dramatic parts including Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on stage in Liverpool in 1971; on television in the cameo role of ‘The Tollmaster’ in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta and the Bannermen; and as Yorick (in silent flashback) in Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1996.
On Television there was the six part Ken Dodd Laughter Show in 1979, An Audience with, and Another Audience With for London Weekend. If you have never seen Ken Dodd live go and see him you’ll never regret it. Click the link for a theatre near you www.kendoddshows.com
There’s also been the Radio Shows The Ken Dodd Show and Ken Dodd’s Palace Of Laughter.