Comedy stage veterans die

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BEN WARRISS, 83, and Florence Desmond, 87, two veterans of the British stage, have died.

Warriss, comedian and stage partner of his cousin, Jimmy Jewel, for more 30 years, died at Brinsworth House, a home for retired entertainers in Twickenham, west London. He had chest cancer. From 1934 to 1969 Jewel and Warriss were one of the nation's best-loved duos on stage, television and radio.

Jimmy Jewel said yesterday: 'As a performer Ben had no equal. He was the best straight man in the business, a real professional in every sense of the word. His stage presence was commanding and his timing impeccable.'

Desmond, actress and cabaret star, died in hospital in Guildford, Surrey. She was famous for impressions of Gracie Fields, Greta Garbo and Jimmy Durante. She began her career at the age of nine, as a dancer.

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