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Desmond Bernard O'Connor
12 January 1932
|Occupation||Broadcaster, musician, comedian|
(m. 1953; div. 1959)
(m. 1960; div. 1982)
(m. 1985; div. 1990)
Jodie Brooke Wilson (m. 2007)
Desmond Bernard O'Connor, (born 12 January 1932) is an English comedian, singer and television presenter. He was a long time chat show host, and the presenter of the long-running Channel 4 gameshow Countdown for two years. He has recorded 36 albums and has had four top-ten singles, including a number-one hit with "I Pretend", with global sales of more than sixteen million records.
O'Connor was born in Stepney, East London, to Maude (née Bassett) and Harry O'Connor. His mother was Jewish and his father was from Ireland. He claims to be the only O'Connor who ever had a Bar Mitzvah. He had a brother, William O'Connor, and has a sister, Patricia, who is one year his junior. He was evacuated to Northampton during the Second World War and was briefly a professional footballer with Northampton Town.
After completing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, he worked as a redcoat at Butlins holiday camp in Filey, where he met his first wife Phyllis, and as a shoe salesman at Church's in Northampton, and for United Counties, both on the road and in the office, before entering show business. Before his break in television, his first theatre appearances were in variety, where he appeared in venues throughout the country.
On stage, O'Connor starred at the Glasgow Empire, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, the Opera House, Sydney and the O'Keefe Centre, Toronto, and made more than one thousand solo appearances at the London Palladium.
O'Connor was the first subject of the second incarnation of the long-running television programme This Is Your Life, when the show returned to screens after a five-year absence, produced by Thames Television. He was surprised live on the stage of the London Palladium by Eamonn Andrews in November 1969.
In October 2015, O'Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck starred in their own one-off show at the London Palladium to raise money for the new Royal Variety Charity. Due to the success of this show, they toured the country in 2016 from April to October. The venues they visited were (in chronological order), Southampton Mayflower Theatre, Leeds Grand Theatre, Southend Cliffs Pavilion, Bristol Hippodrome, Bournemouth International Centre, and Milton Keynes Theatre.
In 2017, O'Connor and Tarbuck toured the UK again from May to December. The venues they visited were (in chronological order), The Anvil, Basingstoke, Theatre Royal, Norwich, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Blackpool Opera House, Princess Theatre, Torquay, Derngate Theatre, Northampton, The Hexagon, Reading, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Theatre Royal, Nottingham, and Grand Theatre, Swansea.
O'Connor has starred in a mainstream television show in almost every year since 1963, a feat that only one other television personality has achieved worldwide (US game show host Bob Barker, who hosted mainstream television shows from 1956 until 2007, with 1966-1972 being in syndication).
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O'Connor has had a successful career as a singer, recording 36 albums, five of which reached the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart. O'Connor appeared with Morecambe and Wise on their Christmas Shows in 1975, 1976 and 1979.
In 1969, thirteen of O'Connor's variety hours were sold to NBC in the United States, as a summer replacement for the network's Kraft Music Hall. The series was broadcast in more than forty countries.
In 2001, O'Connor was presented with the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards for his contributions to television.
O'Connor has been married four times: