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Peter Sallis from 'Wallace and Gromit,' 'Last of the Summer Wine' dies at 96

By
Karen Butler

June 6 (UPI) -- British actor Peter Sallis has died at the age of 96.

Born in Twickenham, Sallis is famous for playing Norman "Cleggy" Clegg in 295 episodes of the TV series Last of the Summer Wine and for voicing the animated character of Wallace in the beloved Wallace and Gromit cartoons from 1990 to 2011. He also was the author of the 2006 memoir Fading into the Limelight.

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His representatives announced Monday Sallis had died peacefully with his family by his side the previous Friday, Digital Spy reported.

"I'm so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years. He was always my first and only choice for Wallace. I knew him, of course, from the very popular, long-running BBC series Last of the Summer Wine. He brought his unique gift and humor to all that he did, and encapsulated the very British art of the droll and understated," Aardman Animations filmmaker Nick Park said in a statement.

"Working with Peter was always a delight and I will miss his wry, unpredictable humor and silliness -- that started the moment he greeted you at the door, and didn't stop when the mic was switched off. He had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage, too, and would keep us amused for hours. He could make the simplest incident sound hilarious -- just by the way he said it."

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Park said he considers himself "blessed and fortunate" because Sallis graciously decided to work with him when Park was a "poor film school student back in the early 1980s."

"They don't come along very often like Peter Sallis -- he was a unique character, on and off screen, and an absolute honor to have known him," Park said.

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