Eric Morecambe was the stage name of Eric John Bartholomew (May 14, 1926 - May 28, 1984, part of the double act of Morecambe and Wise with Ernie Wise. In the UK he is widely considered to have been a "comic genius".
Eric took his stage name from the seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire, England, his home town. He and Ernie were both teenagers when they teamed up in 1941, and had still to face national service during World War II when he was a Bevin Boy, conscripted to work in a coal mine.
After the war, they made their name on radio, before arriving on television in 1955. They appeared together in many series such as Two of A Kind. There were also a number of Christmas specials. They were well-regarded and their reputation enabled them to garner a number of prestigious guests including Angela Rippon, Princess Anne, Cliff Richard, Glenda Jackson, Tom Jones, Elton John and even the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Des O'Connor was frequently the butt of their humour. The duo also made three films together, none of which was particularly successful.
Eric was regarded as the funny man, although this was one of the most equal partnerships of all time. He constantly poked fun of Ernie's appearance, but there was clearly great affection between the two. In sketches, Eric frequently appeared playing the piano (badly), most notably in the famous "Grieg's Piano Concerto" sketch, featuring Andre Previn (who only had a few hours to learn his part).
Before his sudden death, Eric had already suffered a massive heart attack which had forced him to put his career on hold. It was an experience he often talked about publicly. His last appearance was in a live stage performance, following which he collapsed with another heart attack.
A larger-than-life statue of Eric was unveiled by the Queen at Morecambe in 1999. A West End show, The Play What I Wrote, appeared in 2001 as a tribute to the duo. Each performance featured a different guest celebrity, including Kylie Minogue, who was said to be particularly keen to participate. Bizzarely, the show later transferred, with some success, to Broadway, only moderately rewritten to allow for the fact that Eric & Ernie were virtually unknown in the U.S. The show toured the UK in 2003.
In his leisure time, Morecambe was a keen birdwatcher, and the statue of him at Morecambe shows him wearing his binoculars.