Bruce Forsyth on Play Your Cards RightCredit: London Weekend Television/REX FEATURES Sir Bruce Forsyth on Sunday Night At The London Palladium in 1959Credit: ITV / Rex Features Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Sir Bruce cemented his place in the hearts of the nation following his stint as the host of ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1958.He also hosted the BBC flagship show The Generation Game from 1971 to 1977 and again at the beginning of the 1990s. At its peak, the show attracted more than 20 million viewers.He started his career in showbiz at the age of 14 with a show called Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom and made his first television appearance as a child in 1939. Returning to the stage at GlastonburyHe was a crowd-pleaser to people of all ages and at the age of 85, Sir Bruce stepped out on to the stage at Glastonbury in 2013 to a standing ovation where he performed a host of classic songs and teased the Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger.He returned to the stage for the first time in nearly two decades with his live one man show at the London Palladium in March 2015, where he was hailed as “a legend” and greeted with a standing ovation.Later that same year, Sir Bruce suffered a serious fall at his Surrey home.The entertainer underwent surgery and, after tests were carried out, doctors discovered that he had suffered two aneurysms. Sir Bruce never allowed the arrival of cult and alternative comedians, with their often coarse material, to influence his own traditional type of comedy which continued to draw in viewers by the millions. He remained a sure-fire, non-stop ringing cash register for the TV companies, particularly the independent ones.And he boasted, with some justification, that his performances appealed not only to the older generation, but to youngsters as well. But Sir Bruce had never been more popular. And in 1995, the year after his final Generation Game appearance, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Variety and three years later he was awarded an OBE. He was to be awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, 2005. The Apprentice and Question Time. Lady Wilnelia said at the time she hoped he would be able to perform again, but added: “He doesn’t want to do anything publicly until he’s 100% well. I respect that.” Sir Bruce was a father-of-six, with five daughters from his first two marriages and one son from his last and current marriage, which was to Puerto Rican former Miss World, Wilnelia Merced.The couple married in 1983 and have remained devoted to each other ever since. Show more He underwent surgery in 2015 after he suffered two aneurysms, which were discovered when tests were carried out following a fall at his Surrey home.The veteran entertainer has been out of the limelight for a while and last year was too frail to attend the funeral of close friends Ronnie Corbett or Sir Terry Wogan.He announced that he was leaving Strictly Come Dancing in April 2014, after nearly 10 years as the presenter of the show.Over the years he had showed no signs of slowing down and in 2013 stepped out on to the stage at Glastonbury to a standing ovation, where he performed a host of classic songs and teased Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger.Video highlights of a career that spanned generations TV companies had no fears about their ratings when Sir Bruce was on the screen. He excelled as a singer, a dancer and a comedian and was also – although this was not widely known – an accomplished jazz pianist, often appearing with Sammy Davis Jr. One of his Palladium roles, refereeing the Beat the Clock feature, gave a hint of Sir Bruce’s future TV career: he went on to host some of the most popular TV game shows of the entire 1970s and 1980s.He appeared with many top names, including Tommy Cooper, Dudley Moore, Harry Secombe and Frankie Howerd. This last partnership developed into a series known as Frankie and Bruce. Sir Bruce also regularly appeared in sketches with sports stars, including boxer Henry Cooper, jockey Scobie Breasley, swimmer Anita Lonsborough, former tennis champion Fred Perry and snooker player Joe Davis.Subsequently, he was to reign supreme at the helm of the BBC flagship show, The Generation Game, from 1971 to 1977 and again at the beginning of the 1990s. At its peak, the show attracted more than 20 million viewers.And although his television appearances were prolific, Sir Bruce also appeared in several successful films, including Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and Star! (1968).His ITV series Play Your Cards Right was a huge success, although it ended with an uncharacteristic sour note, when he accused his bosses of taking the show off without telling him, even though it was drawing audiences of around the 14 million mark. “I think I’ll be completely at peace when it does happen to me because I’ve been so lucky. I’ve had a wonderful career,” he told Radio Times.He also recalled the pain his family went through, when his brother John died in the Second World War.How he spent his later yearsSir Bruce was a father-of-six. His first marriage to Penny Calvert in 1953 produced three daughters.In 1973, he married his television co-host Anthea Redfern and would regularly ask her on screen to “Give us a twirl” and “What do you do, my love?”. That marriage produced two daughters, but was dissolved in 1982.In 1983, he married the Puerto Rican former Miss World, Wilnelia Merced, who would later become Lady Wilnelia. There was one son from this marriage.In his later years, Sir Bruce spent much of his time relaxing in Puerto Rico. He was an avid golfer, proclaiming in Who’s Who that his handicap was 10. He regularly played at Wentworth Golf Club, very close to where he lived. Reports in 2016 also claimed the TV stalwart would be announcing his retirement from the entertainment industry but his manager said that Sir Bruce had made “no formal or informal decision” about leaving showbusiness.The star once gave his thoughts on death, saying: “As I get nearer to it, I fear it less because with the tiredness one gets at times, you think, ‘Is it just like having a nice long sleep?’ I wouldn’t say I fear it. Lady Wilnelia last year told the Mail On Sunday’s You magazine about her husband’s health struggles following his life-saving surgery.She said she found it difficult to think about a future without the man she’d been married to for 36 years.”I don’t think about it too much. I hope I’ll be prepared somehow, but it doesn’t feel real. He’s the man I fell in love with because his brain is there.”He has a bit of a problem moving, but we still laugh and talk. I pray, I believe. The main thing is that he’s doing well. The pain is more emotional; sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh.”The Puerto Rican 1975 Miss World winner spoke about how he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and still had a keen interest in TV, watching the Olympics, One of his most surprising appearances was hosting an edition of the TV hit show Have I Got News For You in 2003. The show was built round him and included a very politically incorrect item called The Iraqi Play Your Cards Right. Ian Hislop, one of the regulars on this programme, said later that only Sir Bruce could have got away with this – and successfully.The Strictly Come Dancing eraAnd in 2004, when in effective semi-retirement, Sir Bruce was brought back to host a new version of an old programme: Strictly, Come Dancing.This was a huge tribute to a man whose essential style of entertainment, although basically unchanged, had remained as fresh and popular as ever it was. He hosted that programme with all the verve and energy of a man half his age. Indeed, as a sprightly, lithe 80-year-old, with the slogan “keep on dancing”, he was hosting the huge BBC TV hit, Strictly Come Dancing. He demonstrated that, even at that age, and beyond, he could still sing with gusto and dance with professional verve.In that show, which became a national Saturday-night institution, he regularly drew attention to his age, modifying one of his already famous catch-phrases to “I’m not doddery – doddery I am not …” inciting the audience to join in.The TV shows that made him famousHis principal claim to fame before that was probably his hosting of the long-running and highly-successful TV series The Generation Game. But he was no less popular in Play Your Cards Right and in Bruce’s Price is Right.His energy was as phenomenal as his catch-words were infectious. Nearly every performance began with the greeting: “Nice to see you … to see you nice!” Or when a contestant in one of his many game shows excelled himself, Sir Bruce would chant: “Didn’t he do well?” He was no less renowned for his poses as a man of muscle. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly presenting the final of the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing in 2012Credit: Guy Levy/BBC He took part in the 2012 Olympic relay when he carried the torch outside the BBC’s White City buildings in west London, which stand on the site of the White City Stadium that hosted the Olympics back in 1908.Having to pull out of a live show due to illnessSir Bruce, the frontman of Strictly Come Dancing since it launched, pulled out of a live show in October 2013 after being taken ill with flu.Before that, the much-loved star last missed a programme through illness in 2009.Sir Bruce announced he was leaving Strictly Come Dancing in April 2014.Show producers regularly scheduled rest weeks during the series to help Sir Bruce cope with the workload of fronting three months of weekly live programmes. Sir Bruce Forsyth with his wife, WilneliaCredit: David Hartley/REX/Shutterstock Sir Bruce Forsyth, the veteran television star, has died at the age of 89.In a statement, his manager Ian Wilson said: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.”A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.”With a twinkle in his eye, he responded “I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!” Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.”The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.”There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.” Sir Bruce was hospitalised in March and spent five nights in intensive care at St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey after developing a severe chest infection, according to reports. Even into his 70s and 80s, he danced with as much vigour as a man half his age and although he good-naturedly teased his contestants on the game shows, with his rapid-fire wit, he was always careful never to humiliate them.Born into a Salvation Army familyBruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson was born into a Salvation Army family in Edmonton, north London on February 22 1928. He attended the Higher Latimer School, Edmonton, but his heart, even as a small boy, was in show business.At the age of 14, he left the family home and was touring Britain as The Boy Bruce – The Mighty Atom. He made his broadcasting debut in 1942 and was an instant hit. He told one BBC interviewer: “I want to be famous and buy my mum a fur coat.”He played the ukulele, the accordion and the banjo with equal prowess and spent some 20 years performing in church halls, sleeping in luggage racks and waiting for the big break. He did a two-year spell at London’s famous Windmill Theatre – “We never closed” – and appeared in several double acts.How he became Britain’s highest-paid entertainerWhen he received the call in 1958 to host Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Sir Bruce was on the verge of leaving showbusiness. He was booked for two weeks, but stayed for five years, by which time he was Britain’s highest-paid entertainer, earning £1,000 a week. BBC Director-General, Tony Hall said: “Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known. He has delighted millions of people and defined Saturday night television for decades, with shows like the Generation Game and, most recently, Strictly. His warmth and his wit were legendary.”I’ve never seen anyone quite like him when it comes to performing in front of a crowd. He had a remarkable chemistry with his audience – that’s what made him such an amazing professional and why he was so loved.”He has been part of all of our lives, and we’ll miss him dearly.” Bruce Forsyth at his home on the Wentworth Estate near Virginia WaterCredit:Clara Molden A star who was brash, but never vulgarHis comedy, although often brash, was never downright vulgar. And Sir Bruce disliked the cult of “reality TV”, saying that it involved no “performance” as such and was often offensive.He once said: “Although I am cheekier now than I was 40 years ago, I’m not downright dirty. It really is lavatory humour and sexual where it is not even a double entendre. It’s just dirtiness for the sake of it. I don’t do that and a lot of people respect that.” From Generation Game to Strictly: How Sir Bruce made his mark on British TVSir Bruce Forsyth was one of the most talented, versatile and popular TV entertainers of his generation.He was knighted in the Birthday Honours of 2011 after his supporters, including many MPs, had campaigned for several years for him to be awarded this honour.With his witty asides, his cheeky smile and his displays of mock outrage, Sir Bruce topped the bill wherever he went for well over half a century.He was still performing with as much zest as ever right into his 80s.