Ernie Wise

From Academic Kids

Ernie (left) with Eric Morecambe
Ernie (left) with Eric Morecambe

Ernie Wise OBE (November 27, 1925March 21, 1999) was a British comedian, best known as one half of the comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, who became an institution on British television, especially for their Christmas specials.

Ernie's real name was Ernest Wiseman, but he changed his name (as did his partner) to go into show business -- which he did at an early age, appearing as an actor and singer in music hall. His father, Harry, a railway porter, was also a semi-professional singer, and they appeared together under the name "Bert Carson and his Little Wonder". In 1939, while still a teenager, he appeared with top British comedian Arthur Askey in his famous Bandwagon show.

Ernie joined forces with Eric Morecambe in 1941, and they became one of the greatest comedy double acts of all time. They made their name in radio, transferring to television in 1955. Over a period of nearly twenty years, they had regular series with both ITV and BBC. Their hallmark was the way they invited celebrities onto the show only to make them look ridiculous. It was considered a sign of having "arrived" if a person was invited to appear. In 1976, they were both appointed OBEs.

Although Ernie was, strictly speaking, the "straight man" of the partnership, his role gradually and subtly changed over the years. The climax of each weekly show was a play "written" by Ernie, which generally demonstrated pretentiousness combined with bad grammar. (For example, Glenda Jackson, at the height of her career, was made to speak the line: All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.) Others who appeared in his "plays" included Peter Cushing and Frank Finlay.

Following Eric's sudden death in 1984, Ernie Wise spent much of his time in Florida and made only occasional appearances -- usually reminiscing about his late partner.

Ernie, who lived with wife Doreen in a luxury home on the banks of the River Thames in Maidenhead, Berkshire, quit showbusiness at the age of 70 after a stroke.

He died from a heart attack at the Nuffield Hospital, Wexham, near Slough, Berkshire following a series of heart problems over the years.


Ernie Wise made the first mobile phone call in the UK on 1 January 1985 from St Katherine's Dock, east London, to Vodafone's Headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire.


  • Eric and Ernie (1973)

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