[ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2116496#footnote1 Tommy Cooper: Just Like That!] BBC News] After this he used to deliberately make a mess of his act.]
When he was demobbed after 7 years of military service, Cooper took up show business on Christmas Eve, 1947 — he would later add a popular monologue about his military experience as "Cooper the Trooper." Cooper worked variety theatres around the country, and at London's Windmill Theatre he performed 52 shows per week.
Cooper had developed his magic skills and was a member of the Magic Circle, but there are various versions as to where he developed his act delivery of "failed" magic tricks:
*Performing to his ship building colleagues when everything went wrong. Devastated, Cooper still noted that the failed tricks got laughs
*During his British Army career
*At a post-war audition, at which his tricks went wrong, but which the panel thoroughly enjoyed
To keep the audience on their toes, Cooper threw in the occasional trick that worked when it was least expected.
Cooper rapidly became a top-liner in variety with his turn as the conjuror whose tricks never succeeded, but it was his television work that catapulted him to national recognition. After his debut on the BBC talent show "New to You" in March 1948, he soon started starring in his own shows, and was popular with audiences for four decades, most notably through his work with London Weekend Television from 1968 to 1972 and with Thames Television from 1973 to 1980.
Cooper was a heavy drinker and smoker, and experienced a decline in health during the late 1970s, suffering a heart attack in 1977 while in Rome, where he was performing a show. However, just three months later he was back on television in "Night Out at the London Casino". By 1980, though, his drinking meant that Thames Television would not give him another starring series, and "Cooper's Half Hour" was his last. He did continue to guest on other television shows, however, and worked with Eric Sykes on two Thames productions in 1982: "The Eric Sykes 1990 Show" and "It's Your Move".
John Fisher writes in Cooper's biography, "Everyone agrees that he was mean. Quite simply he was acknowledged as the tightest man in show business, with a pathological dread of reaching into his pocket."
Friends remember he would persuade strangers to buy him a drink using magician's cunning. He would stand at a bar and, when he made eye-contact with a stranger say 'Yes?' to which the stranger would reply, "Can I get you a drink?" Cooper would reply 'What are you drinking?' to which the stranger would think he was being offered a drink, state his preference and hear Cooper rejoin, "I'll have one as well." Another stunt was to leave a taxi, slipping something into the taxi driver's pocket saying, "Have a drink on me." That something turned out to be a tea bag.
He was also known for meanness of nature. In 1964 he was opening act at the Royal Variety Performance but short of material. He asked Billy Mayo, a retired variety pro who had seen better days, for help. Mayo went off to a hardware store and bought a paraffin heater, which he presented to Cooper telling him to walk on at the beginning, put it down in front of the audience and say, "They told me to go out there and warm them up." Cooper did, and the gag stormed. A few days later he met Mayo along with fellow performers in Soho where he received much praise for his performance but offered not a word of thanks to Mayo. At leaving time Mayo asked a favour of Cooper, "My legs are not so good at the moment. Would it be possible for your driver to drop me off at my flat?" Cooper replied by saying, "I'm not a fucking taxi service."
However, Fisher reports that despite other such tales, Cooper's strengths outweighed his faults.
Cooper's drinking increased and had a devastating effect on his family and nearly ruined his career. Initially he drank to allay the anxiety of going onstage. He told his friend Eric Sykes, "People say I've only got to walk out on stage and they laugh. If only they knew what it takes to walk out on stage in the first place. One of these days I'll just walk out and do nothing. Then they'll know the difference."
What began as liquid courage became a psychological crutch. Michael Parkinson recalls working with Cooper on a dry ship: there was much agitation when Cooper requested brandy. Parkinson explained, "You give him the bottle or he doesn't go on. It's as simple as that. That's how he works." There was an incident in a hotel where he asked for a large gin and tonic at breakfast then poured it over his cornflakes, explaining it was good for him as 'milk is full of cholesterol'.
By the mid-seventies, alcohol had started to erode Cooper's professionalism and club owners complained that he turned up late or rushed through his show in five minutes. His popularity generally carried him through but sometimes he was slow-handclapped on to the stage, audiences shouting 'Why are we waiting?' In clubs and on television, his timing began to desert him, he looked sad and was sluggish, eyes glazed, energy lowered. His slight incoherence had been part of his act but now words were being left out to embarrassing effect. Despite production crews pouring coffee down his throat, classic gags were omitted and other lines repeated for no reason. His health suffered and, fixated about his increasing weight, he started buying under-the-counter slimming pills which he mixed with insomnia tablets to form a potent cocktail.
In addition, he suffered chronic indigestion, lumbago, sciatica, bronchitis (he smoked 40 cigars a day) and severe circulation problems in his legs. When Cooper realised the extent of his injuries he cut down on his drinking and the energy and sparkle returned to his act and some of his later television performances were a revelation. However, he never stopped drinking and could be fallible: on an otherwise triumphant appearance with Michael Parkinson he forgot to set the safety catch on the guillotine illusion into which he had cajoled Parkinson. Only a last-minute intervention by the producer saved Parkinson's lifeFact|date=January 2008.
Marriage and infidelity
Cooper's drinking led to wife-beating. Several times Gwen called Miff Ferrie, Cooper's agent and manager, to say she was leaving him after he had struck her in front of the children. She reported that he sat at the dressing room table drinking whisky all night then he went to bed at 5am before waking up, going down to the kitchen and re-commencing drinking. However the domestic violence stopped after Cooper's most serious health-scare. About to perform for executives of IBM in Italy he collapsed, had convulsions and began bleeding from the mouth. A doctor saved his life with a cardiac injection and Gwen flew to his side in an IBM plane. There would be no more scared phone calls to Ferrie.
Their marriage was volatile. Gwen told the press, 'We fight. I throw things and he throws things back. But we often end up laughing.' Their son said, 'She was more than a match for him. They had some colossal fights and Dad would spend all his time ducking.' However it was also a very loving union; she also said, 'He was the nicest, kindest - and most awkward - man in the world.'
In 1967 Cooper began an affair with Mary Fieldhouse (nee Kay), a stage manager whom he met in a church hall used by Thames TV for rehearsals. At this time he was travelling the country constantly by himself, Gwen having decided put her two teenage children first. Kay recognised Cooper needed order in his life and made herself the person to bring it, at least when on tour as his wardrobe manager - their relationship developed and they fell in love. It was because of her that Cooper increased his touring, relishing the chance to spend time with her. She did not rescue him from self-destructive drinking and on occasion fell victim to his rages: there is a story of his ripping the seam of an expensive dress he had bought her and throwing her to the floor in a restaurant. The ogre was always mollified quickly and as Mary put it, "Brandy, I noticed, didn't bring out the best in people."
Gwen supposedly found out about the affair after Cooper's death and remarked that it was a mere slip, a one-night stand. There had however been tabloid speculation while the affair was going on and a friend recalls Gwen coming into the bedroom brandishing a hotel invoice to Mr and Mrs Cooper. Cooper insisted he was on his own. His wife left the room slamming the door and calling him a bastard. He pulled his clothes over his pyjamas and dashed to the nearest phone box where he called the manager and asked him to phone his home in half an hour and apologise for the mistake. Half an hour later there was a phone call to the house and Gwen came upstairs all smiles, explaining there had been a Mr and Mrs Cooper in the hotel at the same time and their bill had been sent by mistake.
Cooper never entertained leaving his wife and friends attest to his deep love of Gwen, saying he needed her. And despite her suffering at the hands of a man Bob Monkhouse described as 'a child with an infant's rage but fundamentally a lovely man', she loved him and was devastated by his death, having sent him off with a flask of coffee and a packet of sandwiches that morning and watching what turned out to be his final performance.
Death while on the air
On 15 April 1984, Cooper collapsed from a heart attack in front of millions of television viewers, midway through his act on the live London Weekend Television (LWT)/ITV variety show "Live From Her Majesty's". Most of the audience thought it was part of his act and were laughing, until it became apparent he was seriously ill. At this point the show's director, Alasdair MacMillan, cued the orchestra to play music for an "unscripted" commercial break (noticeable by several seconds of blank screen whilst LWT's master control contacted regional stations to start transmitting advertisements) and Jimmy Tarbuck's manager tried to pull Cooper back through the curtains, where he was given CPR. For legalhuh and medical reasons, Cooper's body could not be removed from the stage except by paramedics or the police. It was decided to continue the show and other stars proceeded to present their acts in the limited space in front of the stage. For a long time, a rumour circulated that the size 13 feet from his 6 foot 3 frame protruded underneath the curtains. While the show continued, efforts were being made backstage to revive Cooper, not made easier by the darkness. It was not until a second commercial break that ambulancemen were able to move his body to Westminster Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in London. [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19941 Find-A-Grave profile for Tommy Cooper] findagrave.com] Cooper was survived by his wife, Gwen (whom he called 'Dove'), and two children, Thomas and Vicky. Thomas died just four years later from cirrhosis of the liver.
Examples of Cooper's humour
His friend and biographer John Fisher said of Cooper's humour: 'On anyone else's lips, it would have been hopeless. Delivered by Tommy, with all his childlike innocence and charm, it would make an audience roar.' Bob Monkhouse recalls seeing Cooper in a dressing room dangling a bath tap on a piece of elastic. "It's a gag," Cooper said, explaining that he was going to come on, dangle it up and down a few times and then say, "Tap dance!" Monkhouse advised him the idea was terrible, the worst joke he'd heard and advised him not to perform it. Cooper went ahead and brought the house down.
Cooper's comedy carried over to his private life. He once went into a tailor's shop to buy a suit. Trying it on he asked a member of staff if he could take it for a walk round the block. When they consented he took a block of wood from his pocket, put it on the floor and walked around it before saying, "Fine. I'll take it." He continued this in life with his wife, Gwen reporting frequent instances of rubber spiders, snakes that sprang out of tins and books that burst into flames. A visitor recalled screams from the maid; she had discovered a 'severed hand' in the laundry basket. Cooper was a caring father and used his comedy to effect. There was the time his son was caught having stolen a ball of string and pen-knife from the local Woolworths. Gwen was distraught but Cooper maintained silence until the evening when he took his son aside and said, in fierce tones, "If you ever, ever steal again .... get me a packet of my favourite cigars." The boy never re-offended.
Cooper turned his comedy to his illnesses. He had chronic indigestion and his daughter Vicky described how he would drink milk of magnesia then jump up and down because he had forgotten to shake the bottle. And despite his upset when his wife was taken ill, the flowers he presented her squirted water in her face.
A selection of Cooper's jokes
* "I slept like a log last night; I woke up in the fireplace."
* "Man walks into a bar. Didn't half hurt. It was an iron bar."
* "I've got the best wife in England; the other one's in Africa."
* "I had a ploughman's lunch the other day; he wasn't half mad."
* "My dog took a big bite out of my knee the other day and a friend of mine said, "Did you put anything on it? I said, No, he liked it as it was."
* "I think inventions are marvellous, don't you? Wherever they put a petrol pump they find petrol."
* "I'm on a whisky diet; I've lost three days already."
* "I backed a horse today at 20 to 1. It came in at twenty past four."
* "I was in Margate last year for the summer season. A friend of mine said, "You want to go to Margate, it's good for rheumatism." So I did and I got it."
* "A man walked into the doctor's, he said "I've broke my arm in several places." The doctor said "Well don't go to those places."
* "I went to the nurse the other day and I told her, "My arm hurts whenever I do that" (does arm gesture). She said, "Well, don't do that then."
* "Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off."
* "A woman told her doctor, "I've got a bad back." The doctor said, "It's old age." The woman said, "I want a second opinion". The doctor says, "OK. you're ugly as well."
In 1961 Cooper had a minor hit record in Britain with "Don't Jump off the Roof, Dad" on Palette Records: 'Don't jump off the roof, Dad/You'll make a hole in the yard/Mother's just planted petunias/The weeding and seeding was hard/If you must end it all, Dad/Why don't you give us a break/Just go down to the park, Dad/And then you can jump in the lake.'
In a 2005 poll "The Comedians' Comedian", Cooper was voted the sixth greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He is commonly cited as one of the best comedians of all time, with several polls placing him at number one.Fact|date=October 2007
Jerome Flynn has toured with his own tribute show to Cooper called "Just Like That".
A statue of Tommy Cooper was unveiled in his hometown of Caerphilly on 23 February 2008 by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is patron of The Tommy Cooper Society.
[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7260219.stm BBC News: Tommy Cooper statue is unveiled] ] ]
In February 2007, "The Independent" reported that Andy Harries, a producer of the Academy Award winning "The Queen", was working on a dramatization about the last week of Tommy Cooper's life. [ [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/just-like-that-tommy-coopers-final-days-447928.html Just like that! Tommy Cooper's final days - Media, News - Independent.co.uk ] ] Harries described Cooper's death as "extraordinary" in that the whole thing was broadcast live on national television. [cite video|people= Harries, Andy|title= Andy Harries, Coventry Conversations, 25th April|url= http://podcasting.services.coventry.ac.uk/podcasting/index.php?id=117|format= MP3|publisher= Coventry University Podcasting Service|date2= 2007-04-27|accessdate= 2008-03-02]
'Tommy C' is a track by UK music artists Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip which discusses the beauty of Tommy Cooper's humour, performances and death. [ [http://www.nme.com/reviews/dan-le-sac-vs-scroobuis-pip/9675 Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Album Reviews - NME.COM ] ]
*Tim Vine, whose jokes are often mistaken for Cooper's.
* [http://thetommycoopersociety.org The Tommy Cooper Society]
* [http://justlikethat.homestead.com/ Tommy Cooper - Almost a Magician]
NAME= Cooper, Tommy
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Cooper, Thomas Frederick
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Comedian and magician
DATE OF BIRTH= 1921-03-19
PLACE OF BIRTH= Caerphilly, Wales
DATE OF DEATH= 1984-04-15
PLACE OF DEATH= Her Majesty's Theatre, Westminster, London, England
Источник: Tommy Cooper