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Wallace and Gromit star Peter Sallis dead at 96

The star began his career on the stage.

The British actor who voiced Wallace in hit animation franchise Wallace and Gromit has died, aged 96.

Peter Sallis died peacefully with his family by his side, his agent announced on Monday (05Jun17).

Born in London, the star began his career on the London stage in the 1950s, and featured on the West End in a 1968 production of Cabaret alongside Judi Dench.

He appeared in films like The Curse of the Werewolf, Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Wuthering Heights, and TV series like Danger Man, Doctor Who, and the historical BBC show Samuel Pepys, in which Sallis played the titular English politician and diarist.

However, it was BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine which really gave Sallis' career a huge boost, portraying Norman 'Cleggy' Clegg, a character specially created for him by his longtime friend and collaborator Roy Clarke, from 1973 until 2010. He was the only main cast member to appear in every episode of the beloved show.

He also starred as his character's father 1988 prequel First of the Summer Wine.

Sallis was also famous for providing the role of eccentric inventor Wallace in the stop-motion Wallace and Gromit films, created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations.

The first release, Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out, became a huge hit upon its release in 1990, and went on to spawn the Oscar-winning short films The Wrong Trousers in 1993 and A Close Shave in 1995.

He also voiced Wallace in 2005's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and earned Sallis the Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production.

He also contributed to 2008's A Matter of Loaf and Death, and the TV show Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention.

Sallis subsequently retired and passed on the role of Wallace to Ben Whitehead.

In 2007, he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama.

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