Society

'Wallace And Gromit' Actor Peter Sallis Dies At 96

| by Michael Howard

English actor Peter Sallis, who voiced the character of Wallace in "Wallace and Gromit," has passed away at the age of 96.

His agents at Jonathan Altaras Associates confirmed the actor's death in a statement to The Guardian.

"It is with sadness that we announce that our client Peter Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at Denville Hall on Friday, June 2," the statement said.

Denville Hall is a London retirement home for actors.

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In addition to his work on the Academy Award-winning "Wallace and Gromit," Sallis played Norman "Cleggy" Clegg in "Last of the Summer Wine," Britain's longest-running sitcom.

Sallis appeared in all 295 episodes of the show, from 1973 to 2010. He was the only actor to do so.

He also voiced the character of Rat in the animated TV series "The Wind and the Willows," according to Variety.

Sallis was 62 when he agreed to take on the role of Wallace in Nick Park's celebrated claymation comedy series.

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"It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it," he said at the time, according to The Guardian. "To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming. To have a legacy like this is very comforting. I am very lucky to have been involved."

The first "Wallace and Gromit" film, "A Grand Day Out," debuted in 1989 and was nominated for an Academy Award. The series would go on to win three Academy Awards and three BAFTAs for "The Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave," and "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Park released a statement in which he paid tribute to Sallis.

"I'm so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years," Park said, according to the BBC. "He was always my first and only choice for Wallace. Working with him was always a delight and I will miss his wry, unpredictable humor and silliness -- that started the moment he greeted you at the door, and didn't stop when the mic was switched off."

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said Sallis will be remembered for his acting ability and unique voice.

"Peter Sallis featured in many of the BBC's most popular programs," Hall said. "He was a marvelous actor -- who could forget that remarkable voice? Peter will be greatly missed by his many fans. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Sources: The Guardian, Variety, BBC / Photo credit: Melanie M/Flickr

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