Friday, November 9, 2012

Coronation Street's Jack Duckworth dies: Actor Bill Tarmey passes away aged 71

By Sarah Bull

Coronation Street actor Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth in the soap, has died.

The actor, who was 71, passed away in Tenerife on Friday morning.

He is survived by wife Alma, son Carl and daughter Sara.

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Passing: Actor Bill Tarmey, aka Coronation Street's Jack Duckworth, has died aged 71

A statement from the family of the actor read: 'The family of Bill Tarmey have confirmed that he sadly passed away this morning in Tenerife.

'They have respectfully asked the media for privacy as they grieve for a wonderful husband, father and brother.'

And a statement from ITV soap Coronation Street read: 'The cast, crew and production team at Coronation Street are devastated to hear of Bill's death.

'Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife and soulmate Ali and their family at this very sad time.'

Screen star: Tarmey as Jack with his on-screen wife Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) and Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch in a scene from the show in May 1983

National treasures: Jack and Vera Duckworth are one of the most famous soap couples in history

Actor Charlie Condou, who plays Marcus Dent in Coronation Street, shortly after the news was announced: 'I am devastated to hear that the wonderful Bill Tarmey has died. He was a beautiful, funny and lovely man, and he will be missed by us all.'

Antony Cotton - who plays Sean Tully - wrote: "Goodnight Bill Tarmey. You were the best. We'll miss you so much x'

Tributes also flooded in from the entertainment world, with This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes writing: 'RIP Bill Tarmey aka Jack Duckworth. Known him for many years - always remembered the small things. Ruth & I getting more like Jack & Vera. (sic)'

A life-long heavy smoker, Tarmey suffered from ailing health over the years. He had a heart attack in 1976, followed by a stroke in 1977, and underwent a quintuple heart bypass in 1986.

Departure: When Tarmey retired in 2010, his character Jack was written out of the soap by peacefully dying in his armchair at No. 9 Coronation Street

Speaking about his illness following a second heart attack in 2002, which saw him fitted with a pacemaker afterwards, Tarmey said: 'I'm deeply worried.

'I have cheated death so many times I feel like a cat running out of lives.

'I've already died twice and the last time they brought me back to life using a medical version of jump leads.'

Tarmey also long refused to give up smoking, saying in one interview: 'I could make it easier on myself. I could give up smoking. I could go and sit in a rocking chair.

'But that wouldn't be me. That would kill me sooner than the old ticker would.'

Tarmey quit Coronation Street in April 2010 to spend more time with his family, after 30 years playing Duckworth.

His decision to leave also came as his son Carl is battling a life-threatening brain tumour.

Tarmey said: 'You would have had to drag me kicking and screaming from the Street.

'It was my life and I loved it. But I needed to be with my family and Carl.'

His final scenes in the show saw Jack dying peacefully in his armchair at No.9 Coronation Street after attending his 74th birthday party at the Rovers Return pub.

He said at the time: 'People often ask me if I like Jack Duckworth and I always reply, "Like him, I bloody love him!" I have had the most amazing 30 years playing Jack.

'Because of him I have made some fantastic friends and travelled all over the world and I will be sorry to say goodbye to Jack.'

Family comes first: One of the main reasons for Tarmey quitting Coronation Street in 2010 was to look after his son Carl, who is battling a life-threatening brain tumour

Tarmey was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on April 4 1941, and was just three years old when his ambulance driver father, William Snr, was killed by shellfire as he ferried casualties to a field hospital in Uden, Holland.

The family grew up with little money and Tarmey left school to enter the building trade. He married his childhood sweetheart Alison - to whom he remained married for 50 years - and they had two children.

Before joining Coronation Street, he struggled to make ends meet and said one incident involving his young son brought home to him the importance of money.

The little boy came home upset one day because he had been dropped from his football team.

Tarmey recalled: 'I couldn't understand it and went to see the trainer, who told me he had been dropped because he wouldn't take goal kicks.

'His football boots were too small, but he was too afraid to tell me because he knew I couldn't afford a new pair.

'I went home and cried that night. I vowed that I'd never be poor again.'

Despite his TV fame, music remained Tarmey's first love and over the years he released a host of cover versions and big band numbers.

Happy marriage: Tarmey seen with wife Alma, to whom he was married for 50 years

VIDEO: A few of Jack Duckworth's iconic moments on the Street...


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