Anne Hart and Ronnie Corbett were married in London in 1965. The couple remained together right up until the “comic genius” died, surrounded by his family, on March 31, 2016. They had two daughters together, Emma and Sophie, and lived in the London suburb of Croydon for most of their blissful married life.
In a brief statement, Corbett’s publicist said, “Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family. They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time.”
Here’s what you need to know about the love of Corbett’s life:
1. The Couple Had a Son Named Andrew Who Was Born With a Heart Defect & Died at Just 6 Weeks Old
Corbett is survived by, in addition to his wife, 82, his two daughters, Emma and Sophie. The couple’s first child, a son named Andrew was born in 1965 with his heart on the wrong side of his body. He died six weeks later at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London. Hart told the Daily Mail in 2013, “I don’t think either of us ever quite got over it. We still think of him all the time.”
Over the next few years, Hart would give birth to the couple’s daughter, Emma, and a year later, Sophie.
. When Appearing on Seminal British Radio Show ‘Desert Island Discs,’ Corbett Chose One of His Wife’s Songs as His Favorite
Prior to meeting Corbett, Hart was a singer, actress and comedian in her own right. During her husband’s 2007 appearance on the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs, where celebrities are asked to pick their favorite eight songs and then ultimately have to pick their absolute favorite, he picked one of his wife’s tracks. The song was “Music Maestro Please.”
You can listen to the full episode here. The description reads, in part, “His 40-year marriage to his wife Ann saw her abandon her flourishing entertainment career to sustain him through the vicissitudes of fame and family life.”
In a 2013 Daily Mail feature, Hart, at one time thought of as Britain’s answer to Jane Russell, explained her decision to leave show business:
My own mother was a wonderful home-maker, and I saw my role as creating an environment in which Ronnie could have the peace to do what he does best: bringing laughter into people’s lives…
Some actresses combine motherhood with a career, but it seldom works. You have to decide what matters in your life. For me, Ronnie and our children came before the fame game. They still do.
She also said in that piece that she is a native of south London in a working class family. Hart struggled with dyslexia but could always make people laugh, a skill which led her to the famed Italia Conti performing arts school in London.
Later, she would become a regular with Corbett’s influencer Tommy Trinder on Sunday Night At the London Palladium. Soon after, she met Corbett, and her show business career was history.
3. Prior to Meeting Corbett, She Had Been Married to a Singer Named John Padley
By the time she met Corbett in 1965, Hart was already married to a London nightclub crooner named John Padley. The couple had married in 1957 but were in the processes of splitting up when Corbett came on the seen. She recalled meeting him in a 2013 Daily Mail feature writing, “I think Ronnie thought I was a bit of a hard case. But not only is he highly intelligent, he is also extremely perceptive, and he soon realised that my brashness was a facade, and also that I suffered terribly from stage-fright.”
While Corbett told the tabloid, “She was — and still is — a stunning lady. I’d never felt a heart-stopping attraction like this ever before.”
4. In 2012, She Saved Her Husband’s Life When He Collapsed at Chinese Restaurant Just After Receiving an Award From the Queen
On New Year’s Day 2012, when Corbett had just received a Commander of the British Empire award from the Queen, his family went out to celebrate at a Chinese restaurant. The Sun reported at the time that Hart thought that he had died in front of his grandchildren. The tabloid says he stood up, announced “I feel terrible,” and then collapsed into his wife’s arms. Her quick thinking saw restaurant staff call an ambulance and Corbett was rushed to a nearby hospital.
There, he was diagnosed with chronically low blood pressure and treated. Hart later told the Sun, “I thought he’d died. I’ve never been so frightened. Of course the little bugger wanted to come home, but we said no. He’s a bloody fighter.”
5. Tweets Are Flooding in as Comedy’s Biggest Names Pay Tribute to Ronnie Corbett
On the day of Corbett’s death, some of comedy’s biggest names have taken to Twitter to pay tribute.
Here are some of the most poignant messages: