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John "Jackie" Wright (c. 1905 in Belfast, Ireland – January 1989 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) also nicknamed Little Jackie and Uncle Jackie, was a Northern Irish comedian, best known for being the bald-headed sidekick of Benny Hill on his television programme for fifteen years. Wright's diminutive stature – he was only 4 feet 11 inches (1.50 m) tall – and Northern Irish accent became assets to the comedy.

Contents

BiographyEdit

Born in Belfast, the eldest of twelve children, Wright first worked as an automobile body assembler, even working in the United States for Cadillac. When the Great Depression took hold, Wright returned to Belfast and then began working in the field of entertainment, first as a musician and then as a supporting comedian.[1][2]

He did not enter television until the 1960s, when Hill discovered him and persuaded him to join his troupe.[1][3] At the time, Hill was ending his stint with the BBC, and starting a 20-year relationship with Thames Television. Hill usually referred to him as "Little Jackie" or "our little Donny Osmond" on the programme. In many of the show's trademark accelerated-motion scenes, Hill would often pat Wright's bald head rapidly, the motion being accompanied by dubbed-in smacking sounds.[1] Actress Suzy Mandel claimed that "Jackie Wright was a chain smoker and he would often hide his cigarette in his mouth or behind his back during scenes. In fact, you could often see a little plume of smoke rising behind him if you looked close enough. Benny would slap his head to fan the smoke away."[4] Wright also appeared on the short-lived 1973 programme Whoops Baghdad starring Frankie Howerd, and had a small role in the musical comedy film Three for All in 1975. He gained a cult following when edited-down versions of the Benny Hill programmes began airing in syndication in the US in the late 1970s.[1]

DeathEdit

Wright left the show in 1983 owing to poor health. Five and a half years later, he died at the age of 83 in a Belfast hospital after battling a long, undisclosed illness. At the time of his death, Benny Hill remarked, "He was a lovely little fella... I'm saddened beyond words."[1][5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Robert Ross (2014) [1999]. Benny Hill - Merry Master of Mirth: the Complete Companion. London: Batsford. p. 337. ISBN 9781849942584. Retrieved 2019-08-22.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  2. ^ "Brendan Behan: Other Works". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  3. ^ Paul Feeney (2010). A 1960s Childhood: From Thunderbirds to Beatlemania. Gloucestershire: The History Press. p. 143. ISBN 9780752450124. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  4. ^ Ponante, Gram (2006-09-25). "Open bar at the Rears place". Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  5. ^ William Brown (2002-04-06). "Benny's Place: Jackie Wright Tribute". Retrieved 2019-08-22.

External linksEdit