Tommy Cooper

Tommy Cooper

English comedian
Date of Birth: 19.03.1921
Country: Great Britain

Biography of Tommy Cooper

Tommy Cooper was an English artist, comedian, and illusionist known for his red fez hat and large build (6'4" and 210 lbs). Born on March 19, 1921, in Caerphilly, Wales, Tommy was the son of Thomas Cooper, a former British Army sergeant turned miner, and his wife Katrina Gertrude (née Wright) from Crediton, Devon. When Tommy was three years old, his father decided to move the family to Exeter due to the polluted air in Caerphilly. It was in the West Country region that Tommy developed the accent that would become part of his image.

At the age of eight, Tommy received a junior magician set as a gift from his aunt and spent hours perfecting various tricks. Additionally, his brother David (born 1930) opened his own magic shop, D. & Z. Cooper's Magic Shop, in Slough during the 1960s.

After finishing school, Cooper became a shipman and worked in Southampton. In 1940, he was enlisted as a private in the Household Cavalry and served for seven years, including a stint in Egypt. Cooper became a member of the NAAFI (Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes), a British government organization, and developed a series of comedy magic tricks for them. By chance, he began performing in a fez hat borrowed from a passing waiter in Cairo, which garnered him immense success.

In 1967, Tommy Cooper entered into a relationship with his personal assistant, Mary Fieldhouse, which lasted until his death. Their son, Thomas (1956-1988), also known as Thomas Henty, became an actor.

After being demobilized from the army in 1947, Tommy Cooper pursued a career in show business. He performed in various theaters across the country and in many top London nightclubs, sometimes doing up to 52 shows in a week. As he developed his skills as an illusionist, he became a member of the British organization, The Magic Circle. Cooper took a break from his comedy act and worked as a trombonist in a group called "The Jackdaws." He then toured Europe for two years with a pantomime, playing one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters. His time at the Windmill Theatre in London marked a pinnacle in his career. Miff Ferrie served as Cooper's sole agent until his death.

After his debut on BBC's talent show "New to You" in March 1948, Cooper began hosting his own show and became popular with audiences for nearly 40 years. Through his numerous television shows, he became one of the most recognizable comedians in the world by the mid-1970s.

In 1980, Thames Television informed Cooper that his performance in "Cooper's Half Hour" would be his last due to his health problems. He continued working with Eric Sykes for a while.

Towards the end of the 1970s, alcohol began to undermine Cooper's health, and he also faced other illnesses. However, he continued drinking and smoking. As a result, he started losing roles and performing less frequently.

Tommy Cooper died on April 15, 1984, in London due to a heart attack during a live broadcast of the show "Live from Her Majesty's" in front of millions of viewers. During his performance, Cooper sat down on stage and then collapsed on his back, losing consciousness. The audience continued to laugh, thinking it was part of the act. After half a minute, the broadcast director went to a commercial break, and the show went on without Cooper, while attempts were made backstage to revive him. An ambulance arrived and transported him to Westminster Hospital, where he was declared dead upon arrival. His body was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in London.

Cooper's hometown of Caerphilly erected a monument in his honor in 2008, with involvement from his friend Anthony Hopkins, who is a patron of "The Tommy Cooper Society." In 2009, on Red Nose Day, a red clown nose was placed on the statue, but it was later stolen.

In a 2005 poll, Cooper was ranked the sixth greatest comedy actor among comedians.

In 2012, the British Heart Foundation launched a series of advertisements featuring Tommy Cooper to raise awareness about heart disease. These advertisements included posters with classic Tommy Cooper jokes.

In August 2016, the Victoria and Albert Museum acquired 116 boxes of Tommy Cooper's papers and props, including his "joke files," in which he meticulously recorded his jokes. The museum stated that Cooper used an alphabetized filing system "with the precision of an archivist."