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Tommy Cooper
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    (March 19, 1921-April 15, 1984)
    Born in Caerphilly, Wales, United Kingdom
    Act featured magic tricks gone wrong
    Starred in various TV series including 'Cooper' (1957), 'Cooper's Capers' (1958), 'Cooperama' (1966), 'The Tommy Cooper Hour' (1973-78) and 'Tommy Cooper, Just Like That' (1978)
    Recorded the song 'Don't Jump Off The Roof, Dad' (1961)
    Suffered a fatal heart attack during the broadcast of 'Live from Her Majesty's'
    His wife threatened to leave him after he hit her in front of their children.
    He had an affair with his stage manager.
    He smoked 30 cigars a day.
    His biographer noted, 'Quite simply he was acknowledged as the tightest man in show business, with a pathological dread of reaching into his pocket.'
    His heavy drinking nearly destroyed his career.
    He almost killed talk show host Michael Parkinson when he forgot to set the safety on a guillotine used for a trick (1979).
    During World War II, he served with the Desert Rats in Egypt before transferring to a military entertainment unit.
    Despite being known for failed tricks, he was actually a skilled magician and joined the Magic Circle.
    When his son was caught shoplifting, he sternly told him, 'If you ever, ever steal again... get me a packet of my favorite cigars.' (The son never did steal again.)
    In a British poll of fellow comics, he was named 6th best comedian of all time, while he topped a separate fans' poll (2005).
    His biographer wrote, 'For all the drinking and tantrums and meanness, he was and is a national treasure. You only had to look at him and you felt happier.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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