Ronnie Corbett was a legendary comedian and actor that was well known for his self-deprecating humor and references to his height, or lack of it, in his work. The 5 feet 1 inch (155 cm) tall Scotts man, who was in the 2012 New Year Honors promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to entertainment and charity, is best known for his works on The Two Ronnies (1971-1987), The Frost Report (1966-1967) and Sorry! (1981–88). Join us as we take a look at his life and career as well as the circumstances surrounding his death.
Early Life and Career
Ronnie Corbett was born Ronald Balfour Corbett, the first of three children to Annie Elizabeth (née Main) and William Balfour Corbett, on the 4th of December, 1930, in Edinburgh, Scotland. His mother was a homemaker while his father was a master baker.
Corbett received his education at James Gillespie’s High School and the Royal High School in Edinburgh. After graduating from secondary school, he opted not to attend university as he began pursuing a career as an actor. He took off by first performing in amateur theatricals at a church youth club as he also gained employment at the Ministry of Agriculture. For his compulsory national service, he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he was commissioned into the secretarial branch as a pilot officer in May 1950. His period of active service ended on the 28th of October, 1951, when he transferred to the reserve. About a year later, on the 6th of September, 1952, he was promoted to flying officer. He has since remained the shortest commissioned officer in the British Forces.
After completing his national service, Ronnie Corbett continued to pursue his dream of acting by moving to London. Due to his height, he was mostly able to land roles of young people, as one of his earliest regular roles was in the BBC children’s television series, Crackerjack! (1957-1958). He then went ahead to appear in films like You’re Only Young Twice (1952) and Rockets Galore! (1957) before getting to appear in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane production of the musical The Boys from Syracuse in 1963. His other works around this time included Casino Royale (1967), The Frost Report (1966–67), Some Will, Some Won’t (1970) and No Sex Please, We’re British (1973).
In 1971, Ronnie Corbett and his longtime collaborator, Ronnie Barker, who he first appeared with on The Frost Report, began appearing in the BBC sketch comedy show, The Two Ronnies (1971-1987). The show proved to be Corbett’s best-known work, however, he is known for his work in the sitcom Sorry! (1981–88).
In 2005, Corbett reunited with Barker for The Two Ronnies Sketchbook. The following year, he played a hyper-realized version of himself in the BBC and HBO co-produced sitcom, Extras (2006). His next main role was in the thriller-comedy Burke & Hare (2010). Around this time, he also served as a panelist in the BBC 1 comedy show, Would I Lie to You?, as he also hosted the Good Food HD programme Ronnie Corbett’s Supper Club.
Ronnie Corbett Family – Wife & Children
In 1966, while working in Irish singer Danny La Rue’s Mayfair nightclub, Ronnie Corbett met his wife, actress and dancer Anne Hart. The two got married that same year, on the 30th of May, 1966, to be exact, and went on to have three children; son Andrew and daughters Emma and Sophie. Andrew, who was born with a heart defect, died at six weeks old at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. His sisters Emma and Sophie went on to have careers as actresses.
Corbett and his wife were married for 49 years until he died in 2016.
Death: When, Where and How Did He Die?
In March 2015, Ronnie Corbett was diagnosed with the motor neuron disease. Almost exactly a year after his diagnosis, on the 31st of March, 2016, the actor and comedian passed away at Shirley Oaks Hospital in Shirley, London with his family surrounding him. He was aged 85.
A funeral service by family and friends was held in his honor at the St John the Evangelist Church in Shirley on the 18th of April 2016. His remains were cremated after a private service at Croydon Crematorium, London. He is survived by his wife of close to 5 decades and his children.