Actor Peter Sallis, who many know as the voice of Wallace in “Wallace and Gromit,” died Friday at the age of 96.
According to the BBC, Jonathan Altaras Associates in London confirmed the news in a statement, saying, “It is with sadness that we announce that our client Peter Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at Denville Hall on Friday 2 June.”
Sallis accrued a number of credits to his name over his long career, including the British comedy series “Last of the Summer Wine” and a variety of BBC programs. Still, the actor is perhaps best known as the cheese-loving inventor Wallace in the popular and Oscar-winning clay animation comedy series from Nick Park and Aardman Animations.
Following the news, a video of Wallace and Gromit “Landing on the Moon” shot to the front page of Reddit.
Park, the ”Wallace and Gromit” creator, remembered Sallis in a statement posted on Aardman.com:
I’m so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years. He was always my first and only choice for Wallace. 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 1980’s, when we first recorded together, when neither of us had any idea what Wallace & Gromit might become.
Peter’s unique, charming quality, together with oversized vowels and endearing performance, helped me fashion Wallace from the beginning; the way he first said “We’ve forgotten the Crackers Gromit” and “Cracking toast Gromit” or just “Cheeeese!” soon lead to Wallace’s enormous “coat-hanger mouth.”
They don’t come along very often like Peter Sallis – he was a unique character, on and off screen, and an absolute honour to have known him.
With the news, the world loses a great actor, and Gromit loses a best friend.