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Summary Article: SECOMBE, Harry [Donald] (1921-2001) Entertainer
from The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales

Swansea’s celebrated ambassador Harry Secombe grew up near the docks in St Thomas, sang in the church choir and worked as a steelworks clerk. In the Second World War, he saw active service as a lance bombardier in North Africa and Italy. The army allowed him to develop as an entertainer, and after 1946 he worked as a comedian at the Windmill Theatre, London; he also toured extensively and broadcast on radio. His great breakthrough came with the anarchic radio series The Goon Show that ran throughout the 1950s. It made him into an international figure, performing regularly at the London Palladium and at Royal Command performances. His tenor voice was adjudged to be of operatic standard and he put it to good effect in his broadcasting, in the film Davy (1957), and in the West End and Broadway show Pickwick (from 1963), in which he sang what became his signature tune, ‘If I Ruled The World’. He published several books, including a novel, and in later life his Christian faith made him an effective and popular presenter of BBC television’s Songs of Praise (see Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol). A genuine and natural entertainer, he was knighted in 1981.

© University of Wales Press 2008 text © text, Yr Academi Gymreig 2008

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