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Bruce Forsyth, British host whose career spanned the history of TV, dies at 89

Bruce Forsyth, British host whose career spanned the history of TV, dies at 89
British TV entertainer Bruce Forsyth gestures to the crowd while performing at the Glastonbury Festival of contemporary performing arts in 2013. (Andrew Cowie / AFP/Getty Images)

Bruce Forsyth, a legendary entertainer, host and quizmaster on English television whose career spanned the history of TV, has died.

The BBC announced that Forsyth, who had brightened its airwaves for decades, died Friday at his home. He was 89.

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Dapper and mustachioed, with a toothy smile and cheeky charm, he was a television presence for 75 years, earning him recognition by Guinness World Records in 2012 for having had the longest on-screen television career for a male entertainer.

Most recently he co-hosted "Strictly Come Dancing," a popular dance competition that premiered on BBC One in 2004 in which he delivered such crowd-pleasing catchphrases as, "Nice to see you, to see you nice" and "Give us a whirl!" He retired from the program in 2013.

Born the son of a garage owner in a suburb of London in 1928, Forsyth took up tap dancing as a youth after seeing a Fred Astaire film. He first appeared on TV in 1939 as a child dancer on a show called "Come and Be Televised" and made his stage debut at the age of 14 with his billed-at-the-bottom act "Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom."

Forsyth's first major TV success came in 1958, when he was signed to host a weekly variety show, "Sunday Night at the London Palladium."

Bruce Forsyth arrives at the Pride of Britain Awards in 2015 in London.
Bruce Forsyth arrives at the Pride of Britain Awards in 2015 in London. (Joel Ryan / Invision/AP)

It drew a then-remarkable audience of 10 million viewers and reportedly caused pubs to empty out as airtime approached and patrons headed home to watch the show. In the process, he was said to be Britain's highest-paid entertainer.

He hosted a number of game shows, including "Play Your Cards Right," "The Price is Right" and "The Generation Game," which at its peak, attracted 20 million viewers.

Decades later, he experienced a career lull, then found a professional renaissance with "Strictly Come Dancing."

Forsyth was knighted in 2011.

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