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Peter Sallis, a much-loved face on British TV and known internationally as the voice of Wallace in the Wallace & Gromit animated films, has died. He was 96.
The actor’s agent announced the news Monday, saying Sallis had died peacefully with his family by his side on June 2.
In the U.K., Sallis was known for decades as the flat-capped and mild-mannered Norman Clegg from the long-running comedy series Last of the Summer Wine. He starred on the show from its very first episode in 1973 right up until its end in 2010, the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes.
But it was his vocal work as Wallace in Nick Park’s award-winning animated films that gave him a global legacy.
Sallis voiced the cheery, eccentric and cheese-loving inventor in 1989’s BAFTA-winning A Grand Day Out, followed up by the Oscar-winning films The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, for which he also won an Annie Award for best voice acting in an animated feature production. His final Wallace & Gromit film was 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death.
The actor often spoke about his pleasure at his work as Wallace, saying that it “raised his standing a few notches in the public eye,” and that “to be still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming.”
In a statement, Park said it was an “absolute honor” to have known Sallis and that he felt “so grateful and privileged to have known and worked” with the actor.
“He was always my first and only choice for Wallace,” the director added. “Peter’s unique, charming quality, together with oversized vowels and endearing performance, helped me fashion Wallace from the beginning; the way he first said, ‘We’ve forgotten the Crackers Gromit‘ and ‘Cracking toast, Gromit‘ or just ‘Cheeeese!’ soon lead to Wallace’s enormous ‘coat-hanger mouth.'”
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