Sir Kenneth Arthur DoddOBE (8 November 1927 – 11 March 2018) was an English comedian, singer and occasional actor. He was described as "the last great music hall entertainer", and was primarily known for his live stand-up performances.
A lifelong resident of Knotty Ash in Liverpool, Dodd's career as an entertainer started in the mid-1950s. His performances included rapid and incessant delivery of often surreal jokes, and would run for several hours, frequently past midnight. His verbal and physical comedy was supplemented by his red, white and blue "tickling stick" prop, and often introduced by his characteristic upbeat greeting of "How tickled I am!" He interspersed the comedy with songs, both serious and humorous, and with his original speciality, ventriloquism. He also had several hit singles primarily as a ballad singer in the 1960s, and occasionally appeared in dramatic roles. He performed on radio and television, and popularised the characters of the Diddy Men.
He was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to entertainment and charity. His stage career lasted for over 60 years, and he continued to perform, when his health permitted, until his death on 11 March 2018, at age 90.
Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born on 8 November 1927 in a former farmhouse in Knotty Ash, a suburb of Liverpool, to Arthur Dodd and Sarah (née Gray); where his parents lived. He had an older brother, William and a younger sister, June. He went to the Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St John's Church, Knotty Ash. He was to live in Knotty Ash all his life, dying in the house in which he was born, and often referred to the area—as well as its mythical "jam butty mines" and "black pudding plantations"—in his act.
He then attended Holt High School, a grammar school in Childwall, Liverpool, but left at the age of 14 to work for his father, a coal merchant. Around this time he became interested in show business after seeing an advert in a comic: "Fool your teachers, amaze your friends—send 6d in stamps and become a ventriloquist!" and sending off for the book. Not long after, his father bought him a ventriloquist's dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions. His distinctive bucked teeth were the result of a cycling accident after a group of school friends dared him to ride a bicycle with his eyes closed. Aged 18, he began working as a travelling salesman, and used his work van to travel to comedy clubs in the evenings.