Ken Dodd, 1927 – 2018
Ken Dodd was probably one of the last of the legendary Great British Comics and Entertainers (this category would include Tommy Cooper, Norman Wisdom, Les Dawson, Bruce Forsyth etc). For over 50 years he reduced audiences to fits of laughter.
He vowed he would never retire and he never did. Aged 90 he was still touring 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 it wasn’t until just before his death he married long time fiancee Anne Jones.
In 1989 Ken Dodd was famously charged with Tax Evasion in a very public court case, lasting three weeks, leading to his acquittal.
Arise Sir Kenneth Arthur Dodd, Squire Of Notty Ash
On December 31st 2016 it was announced that Ken Dodd was to be knighted in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list.
Health Scare And In The End
In January 2018 Sir Ken was admitted to hospital with a severe chest infection, as rumours of his demise began to circulate the comic was quick to point out he was still here. After a six week stay in hospital Ken was discharged. He told an army of waiting fans he’d written some new jokes and after a short rest he was going back to work.
On March 9th 2018 he married his partner of 40 years Anne Jones at their home in Knotty Ash, the same house he was born in and had lived in all his life.
Sadly it was all to brief a marriage Ken passed away on 11th March 2018.
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
There’s also been the Radio Shows The Ken Dodd Show and Ken Dodd’s Palace Of Laughter. However Ken’s career was dedicated to