Peter Sallis, who is best known for voicing Wallace in the animated Wallace and Gromit movies, has passed away at the age of 96. He died on Friday at his home in the U.K. and reportedly died peacefully. Peter Sallis‘ acting career lasted more than 60 years, with his first role dating back to 1947. He continued acting until 2010 before retiring from the business.
With more than 150 credits to his name, Peter Sallis was very prolific during his long career, but there are two roles for which he will always be remembered. One being Wallace, a role which he first took on in 1989 in the Wallace and Gromit short A Grand Day Out. He also played Norman Clegg on Summer Wine, the longest-running British sitcom in history. Per Deadline, his agents Jonathan Altaras Associates released this statement.
“It is with sadness that we announce that our client Peter Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at Denville Hall on Friday, June 2.”
Starting with a part in a TV version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1947, Peter Sallis worked steadily for most of his life, acting alongside greats like Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. After having more than 25 years of experience under his belt, he took on the role of Norman Clegg in Summer Wine, a role which he played for nearly 40 years, spanning 295 episodes. Few actors outside of soap operas have ever had a run like that on a TV show. Especially a British TV show, where, save for shows like Summer Wine or Doctor Who, series are often cut quite short.
It wasn’t until 1989 that Peter Sallis first took on the voice role of Wallace in Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, the role for which he is best known around the world and the role that defined the later years of his career. The Wallace and Gromit short A Grand Day Out went on to win a BAFTA. He reprised the role in two more shorts, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, both of which won BAFTA and Oscar awards. Sallis also played Wallace in the 2005 feature-length Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as well as 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death. The former went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Peter Sallis was very happy to have a role that brought so many joy so late in his career, as he regularly expressed his gratitude for the part.
“It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it. To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming. To have a legacy like this is very comforting. I am very lucky to have been involved.”
Born in Twickenham in southwest London, Peter Sallis was an only child and initially followed in his father’s footsteps by going into the world of banking. But that all changed when he was asked to be in a production of Hay Fever in 1943, which gave him the acting bug. The rest, as they say, is history. RIP, Peter Sallis.