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Respectfully known as "Britain's undisputed king of comedy," Ken Dodd (born Kenneth Arthur Dodd) was one of the most successful artists in the history of the British theater. He set the record for the longest run at the Palladium in London, in 1958 performing two shows a night and three on Saturday for an unprecedented 42 weeks. Dodd was equally successful as a romantic balladeer, recording such hits as "Love Is Like a Violin," a Top Ten hit in 1960, and "Tears," which spent five weeks in the top chart position and became the top-selling British single of 1965. He continued to find success with his translations of Italian ballads "The River," "Broken-Hearted," and "When Love Comes Around," and a tune, "Promises," based on Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata. A popular television artist in the 1960s and '70s, Dodd starred in such British TV shows as The Ken Dodd Show, Doddy's Mixed Box, and Ken Dodd's Showbiz.
Liverpool-born Dodd grew up in Knotty Ash, a small district of the British city. While still in his teens, he began performing comic versions of such well-known songs as "Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty, the Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter." Launching his professional career in 1954, he appeared in Blackpool during the summers of 1955 and 1956. By 1958, he was featured act at the Central Pier in Blackpool. In an attempt to reach the youngest members of his audiences, Dodd created the Diddymen, a fictionalized group that included Dicky Mint, Mick the Marmalizer, Hamish McDiddy, and Neil Ponsonby-Smallpiece. Although puppets were used for TV appearances, children or midgets portrayed the Diddymen during their annual Christmastime concerts.