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Wallace and Gromit actor dies aged 96

peter sallis wallace gromit

British actor Peter Sallis, who played irrepressible, cheese-loving inventor Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit cartoons, has died. He was 96.

Sallis' agents, Jonathan Altaras Associates, say he died Friday in London.

Sallis caught the acting bug as a Royal Air Force serviceman during World War II and later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He became famous in Britain as a star of long-running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

Millions around the world know his voice from animator Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit series of shorts and features, which charted the adventures of a tea-loving Yorkshireman and his level-headed dog Gromit.

Millions recognise Wallace's down-to-earth Yorkshire accent and frequent exclamation "cheese, Gromit!"

Two of the films, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave won Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film in 1993 and 1995 respectively.

"He was always my first and only choice for Wallace," Park said.

"I knew him, of course, from the very popular, long-running BBC series Last Of The Summer Wine.

"He brought his unique gift and humour to all that he did, and encapsulated the very British art of the droll and understated.

"Working with Peter was always a delight and I will miss his wry, unpredictable humour and silliness - that started the moment he greeted you at the door, and didn't stop when the mic was switched off.

"He had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage too, and would keep us amused for hours. He could make the simplest incident sound hilarious - just by the way he said it.

"When I look back I'm so blessed and fortunate that he had the generosity of spirit to help out a poor film school student back in the early 1980s, when we first recorded together, when neither of us had any idea what Wallace and Gromit might become."

© AP 2017 Photo credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

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