From humble beginnings as "The Boy Bruce - The Mighty Atom", he went on to dominate the light entertainment world with his tap-dancing and eyebrow-raising asides.
Now Bruce Forsyth, whose television career took off again in 2003 after a sparkling performance on the satirical BBC quiz show, Have I Got News For You?, is being honoured at the theatre where he made his name. Yesterday, friends watched as a bronze bust of Forsyth, 77, was unveiled at the London Palladium to mark his impact on the light-entertainment industry over six decades. The bust, sculpted by his son-in-law, Dominic Grant, will be placed in the theatre's Cinderella Bar.
Forsyth said yesterday: "No theatre on this earth has ever superseded the Palladium in my affections. It is just so special."
After impressing on Have I Got News For You?, he fronted a new quiz, Didn't They Do Well, last year, and became the host of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.
Forsyth helped the show become a massive Saturday night ratings hit, building a rapport with his glamorous co-host, Tess Daly. Such was the success that it spawned a further series and TV specials, earning him his first National TV Awards nomination in 2004. This year, he was the subject of a Bafta TV tribute.
In his heyday, the entertainer was commanding formidable viewing figures and had entrenched himself in the national consciousness with his playful nature and catchy phrases such as "Nice to see you, to see you nice", and "Didn't he do well?"
In 2000, Forsyth's career hit turbulence after he left ITV, saying he could no longer work with the channel's then-controller David Liddiment, after his show Play Your Cards Right was axed.
Born in Edmonton, north London, Forsyth soon developed talents for singing, dancing, playing the accordion, ukulele and banjo, all performed with comic timing. By the age of 14, he had left the family garage business to tour Britain billed as "The Boy Bruce - The Mighty Atom".
He spent two decades travelling the country and performing at a range of venues until his big break in 1958 when he hosted a TV series, Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He was booked for two weeks, and stayed five years, by which time he was Britain's highest-paid entertainer, earning £1,000 a week.
He went on to host some of the most popular television games shows of the 1970s and 1980s, reigning supreme with his BBC Generation Game from 1971 to 1977, and in the early 1990s. At its peak, the programme drew 20 million viewers.
He married Anthea Redfern, his Generation Game co-host in 1973. They divorced and he married a former Miss World and has an 18-year-old son. In 1995, a year after his final Generation Game, he received a lifetime achievement award for variety at the British Comedy Awards, and three years later, an OBE.
The older they get, the better they get
Best known as a jazz musician in the 1950s, his "Bad Penny Blues" in 1956 was the first British jazz record to enter the top 20. He left the entertainment scene until 2000 when his band made a guest appearance on the Radiohead track, "Life In A Glass House". His collaboration with Radiohead culminated in a performance in front of 42,000 fans at the South Park concert in Oxford. He presents The Best of Jazz on BBC Radio 2 and chaired the panel game, I'm sorry I Haven't a Clue on Radio 4 for 30 years.
His thrice-weekly TV chat show was axed after eight years in 1992 to make way for the soap, Eldorado. He believed his TV career was over but he went on to present Children in Need, and presents an award-winning radio show on Radio 2, with more than seven million listeners.
Barker won three Baftas and an OBE for comedy including Open All Hours, The Two Ronnies and Porridge, until aged 57 in 1987he retired to his antique shop in the Cotswolds. In 2002 he returned in the BBC drama, The Gathering Storm, to play Churchill's manservant. Now The Best of The Two Ronnies is back.