Ronnie Corbett, half of comedy’s ‘Two Ronnies,’ dies at 85

(Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

LONDON (AP) — British comedian Ronnie Corbett, half of much-loved duo The Two Ronnies, has died at the age of 85, his publicist said.

Paul Sullivan said Corbett died Thursday “surrounded by his loving family.” The cause of death wasn’t disclosed.

Born in Edinburgh on Dec. 4, 1930, Corbett had stage, film and cabaret roles before coming to prominence on David Frost’s satirical 1960s TV show “The Frost Report.” One classic sketch — still frequently used to illustrate Britain’s class system — teamed 5-foot 1-inch (1.55 meter) Corbett, the taller comedian Ronnie Barker and the towering John Cleese to represent the working, middle and upper classes.

In 1971 Corbett teamed up with Barker for a sketch show, “The Two Ronnies.” It ran for a dozen series over 16 years and at its peak had 17 million viewers.

The duo’s verbal dexterity, comic timing and physical incongruence — the bulky Barker towered over the diminutive Corbett — made them favorites with millions of comedy fans. Their signature signoff — “Now it’s goodnight from me.” ”And it’s goodnight from him” — became a popular catchphrase.

The duo incorporated sketches, spoof newscasts and musical parodies, all of which delighted in wordplay. One memorable sketch involved Barker attempting by buy fork handles, and getting four candles from uncomprehending shopkeeper Corbett.

Corbett’s later roles included a put-upon librarian in the 1980s sitcom “Sorry!”

In 2005 he reunited with Barker, who died later that year, for TV show “The Two Ronnies Sketchbook.” Corbett also worked with — and influenced — younger comedians including Ricky Gervais, Rob Brydon and Peter Kay.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Corbett would “be remembered as one of the all-time great comedians.”

Actor Russell Crowe tweeted: “And it’s good night from Ronnie Corbett. Thanks for all the laughs mate.”

Corbett is survived by his wife, Anne Hart, and their two daughters.

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