Ernie Wise's sad end

Widow speaks out

Ernie Wise spent the last years of his life paranoid and depressed, his widow Doreen has revealed.

He lost half of his sight and his hearing following a series of strokes, and became short-tempered because of the medication he was on.

Doreen, 79, said: ‘His medication altered his personality. He suddenly began to use strong language and developed an irrational fear that people wanted to hurt him. He was afraid of being mugged and became reclusive and depressive.”

Wise died in 1999, aged 73, unaware, his widow says, of how much he was loved by fans.

Of the tributes that poured in, she said: ‘I just wished those accolades had been said to his face when he was alive. He had no idea how much he was appreciated.’

Speaking to the Daily Express to coincide with a new authorised biography of the star. Doreen added: ‘When people downplayed Ernie’s talent I used to think, ‘How can they be so stupid?’ But though he hated being labelled a stooge the brickbats didn’t faze him. He’d just say, “Well I know better. It would only matter if I wasn’t getting half the money.”’

But BBC documentary made in 1990, six years after Eric Morecambe’s death, did upset him, portraying him as a forlorn figure without his comedy partner.

At the time, he wrote to one fan: ‘I fell out with the director. In the end it was just a put down.

Now Doreen believes the 40 Minutes film, The Importance Of Being Ernie, believes it contributed to his first heart attack.

Little Ern! The Authorised Biography Of Ernie Wise is out tomorrow. Click here to buy from Amazon.

Published: 6 Oct 2011

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