Sir Bruce Forsyth, the veteran entertainer whose glittering showbiz career spanned 75 years, would have turned 94 today (February 22).
He sadly died at the age of 89 on August 18, 2017 – a few months shy of his 90th birthday.
Perhaps best known for his catchy slogans, such as “nice to see you, to see you nice,” he became Britain's best-paid TV star, famous for hosting game shows like The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right.
One of the star’s biggest roles was hosting BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
To remember the icon on his birthday, Daily Star takes a look inside the beloved star’s struggle to fight his failing health and his intimate conversations with his wife of 34 years.
Rumours started to circle that Sir Bruce was in poor health after the TV favourite stepped down from his Strictly Come Dancing hosting duties in 2014.
Forsyth, a song-and-dance man who had a keen sense for connecting with people, said at the time that his years of live television had “taken their toll.”
The Middlesex-born star suddenly removed himself from the public eye before undergoing keyhole surgery in 2015 after being diagnosed with two aortic aneurysms.
In an emotional interview, his wife Wilnelia said at the time: “I pray, I believe. The main thing is that he’s doing well.”
In March 2017, Sir Bruce spent five days in intensive care after suffering a chest infection. Close friend and comedian Jimmy Tarbuck also told an audience in Blackpool that the TV legend was “frail”.
Months later, Bruce died in August 2017 after his family announced he had contracted bronchial pneumonia.
Bruce is survived by his wife, Lady Wilnelia Forsyth, and his six children – daughters Debbie, Julie and Laura from his first marriage with Penny Calvert, Charlotte and Louisa with his second spouse Anthea Redfern and a son with Wilnelia – as well as nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Hopes of a comeback
Bruce was "looking forward" to going back to work just weeks before his death.
His close friend, comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, revealed he was surprised by his death because he appeared in high spirits when he visited him a few weeks earlier, adding that Sir Bruce was even talking about jobs.
“He was bright as a button doing it all but he wasn't quite as mobile as he had been. He was in great form. He was looking forward to going back to work," the star said during an appearance on Loose Women.
His final days with wife Wilnelia
Reports since his death have revealed that Sir Bruce pleaded with doctors to be taken home to die. His doctors reluctantly respected his wishes and arranged palliative care, leaving wife Wilnelia as his primary carer.
The national treasure promised his wife that a rainbow would help guide her through life after his death.
“I remember saying to him, ‘But Bruce, how will I know what to do when you’re not here? I can’t even work the TV remote without you!’
“He turned to me and said, ‘Just look for the rainbow, my darling’.
“Now his children send me pictures of rainbows from wherever they are and it’s really just this wonderful feeling,” she said to The Mirror.
Wilnelia – who became his third wife in 1983 – opened up opened up to The Mail On Sunday about his final days at home, saying: "He was smiling on the way home.
"We took him upstairs and he was so happy to be in his own bed. They brought a bed for him from the hospital but he joked that you'd have to be really dying to get into it.
"Suddenly he went very quiet and closed his eyes. I asked if he wanted me to call anybody but he didn't say anything. I thought, 'Oh my God.' Then suddenly he opened his eyes and said, 'I do want something.'
"I said, 'What do you want?' with tears in my eyes. He paused and said, 'Can I have a sausage sandwich?' I could have killed him myself at that moment.”
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