The career of one of Britain's most popular actors, singers, comedians and television presenters, Sir Harry Secombe, will be celebrated at a memorial service at 11AM at Westminster Abbey on Friday Oct. 26.
The rare honor (which was also granted to Lord Olivier) is a mark of the esteem in which Secombe was held. His long career, which began with shows while he was serving in the army in World War Two, included many years as one of the radio comics The Goons. He was also a regular performer at the London Palladium and, in his youth, had appeared as a comic performer at the Windmill Theatre in Soho.
The highlight of Secombe's theatre career was his long-running lead in the musical Pickwick, based on Dickens' stories, with the hit song "If I Ruled the World." He also appeared in the film version of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, playing the Beadle. His later career tended to be concentrated on television though his theatrical connections were continued with performances in pantomime, and leading theatre figures are expected at the memorial service.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow