Beloved British comedy actor and writer, Eric Sykes, has died at the age of 89, BBC News reports. "Eric Sykes, 89, star of TV, stage, and films, died peacefully after a short illness," said his manager, Norma Farnes. "His family were with him."
Sykes was one of the most popular comedic actors of his generation, The AP reports. He performed in shows in London's West End into his 80s. His career spanned 50 years.
He was born in Oldham, Lancashire, in 1923 and served as a wireless operator in the Royal Air Force where he met actor actor Bill Fraser. This meeting led to Sykes' breakthrough in comedy writing, Reuters reports. Sykes began writing and collaborating with comedian Frankie Howerd onVariety Bandbox, a popular radio show.
Sykes also co-wrote 24 episodes of the classic radio comedy The Goon Show with the late Spike Milligan, The AP reports.
His breakthrough came in 1960 with Sykes and A, a sitcom about a brother and sister living together in West London, Reuters reports. The show co-starred Hatti Jacques, and ran through the 1970s.
BBC News reports that various TV and film stars paid tribute to Sykes Wednesday.
Sir Bruce Forsyth called the star "one of the greats of comedy in this country."
"He was universally loved here," Forsyth continued. "He was just one of the funniest men ever."
On Twitter, comedian Stephen Fry wrote, "Oh no! Eric Sykes gone? An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master. Farewell, dear, dear man."
League of Gentlemen star Mark Gatiss said, "The wonderful Eric Sykes has left us. A giant of comedy and a gentleman, funny to his very core. RIP."
Eric Sykes also wrote scripts for Peter Sellers and other British comedy actors, The AP reports.
Former Monty Python member Michael Palin said Sykes was "one of the nicest, most decent men in the business, and one of a kind."
Later in his career, Sykes would go on to appear in films such as The Others, which starred Nicole Kidman, and in the Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
In 1992, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Writers' Guild, and The British Comedy Awards, BBC News reports.
According to Reuters, Sykes became almost totally deaf in his 30s and was blind from the early 1990s, making his enduring success even that much more remarkable.