Britain's famous slapstick comedian, Benny Hill (1924-1992), was born Alfred Hawthorne Hill on this day in Southampton, south England. A former milkman, Hill loved silent comedy and burlesque and played the drums as a teen.
With a passion for parodies, he was known for ribald jokes, saucy songs, and double-entendres. His outrageous sketches--described as "the goosed and the gooser," by reviewer Donald Liebenson--included buxom beauties called "Hill's Angels."
Not everyone's cup of tea, Hill once said, "I'm not against half naked girls - not as often as I'd like to be."
Changing his name in celebration of his favorite comic Jack Benny, Hill made his stage debut in Stars in Battledress (1941). His shtick on the radio show Hi There (1949) would evolve into signature characters Fred Scuttle, Maurice Dribble, and others.
"Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect." he said.
Naughty, but endearing, the television pioneer gained international status with the syndicated The Benny Hill Show (1955-1989). Skilled at pantomime and parody, slapstick and sketches, he won the 1965 BBC Personality of the Year Award.
"I owe everything to television," he said.
His goofy facade hid a shy man who worked hard, wrote his own material, lived a simple life, and never married.
He told the Observer in 1977, "That’s what show business is—-sincere insincerity."
"Good night, God bless."