Bruce Fretts
May 01, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

We remember Benny Hill

When Benny Hill, the ribald British comic who died of a heart attack last week at 67, was growing up in Southampton, his grandfather took him to burlesque shows. Young Hill;s attention always fixed on the comedian:”He was surrounded by pretty girls, he obviously got more money than anyone else, and everyone loved him,” he recalled.

Hill transplanted burlesque to British TV, playing host to a cavalcade of skimpily attired women (known as ”Hill’s Angels”), slapstick sketches, and | saucy double entendres with a naughty schoolboy’s glee. Beginning with a series of specials in the early 1950s, he became Britain’s most popular TV comic; his admirers included novelist Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange), who declared Hill ”one of the great artists of our age.”

Though he appeared in movies, Hill didn’t find international success until 1979, when his specials were edited into The Benny Hill Show, a series featuring his racier material, and syndicated worldwide.

Hill’s lewd stye drew fire from feminist critics, and in 1986 he tried to reform, reducing the smut in his shows. But the times had passed Hill’s humor by, and Thames Television dropped his show in 1989.

”My philosophy is to live every day as if it were your last,” a typical Hill line began. ”One day you’re sure to be right.” Wink, wink.

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