by Zahra Deera
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SPOTLIGHT: Bruce Forsyth

by Zahra Deera

While Sir Bruce Forsyth is remembered primarily for his extensive career in show business and charitable campaigning, this week we explore how his marital life gives us an interesting insight as to how former spouses can remain on good terms post-divorce.

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Sir Bruce Forsyth is a household name rising to fame in the early 70’s, presenting in a number of popular Saturday night entertainment shows such as The Price is Right, The Generation Game & later on, as the face of Strictly Come Dancing. However, the media documents a turbulent personal life that coincided with his star-studded career.

Forsyth’s marriages

Forsyth married his first wife and TV show presenter Penny Calvert in 1953. The pair met in the early years of his career when Calvert worked as a dancer at the Windmill Theatre in London. However, during their 20 years of marriage, the couple became estranged, with Calvert citing his increasing celebrity status and ‘prodigious appetite for work’. Forsyth later admitted that this strained relationship culminated in him being unfaithful and the pair eventually divorced in 1973.

Over the following decades, Forsyth went on to marry twice more – first to trained dancer Anthea Redfern and then to former Miss World, Wilnelia Forsyth. The beginning of Forsyth’s affair with Redfern is claimed to have ended his image as a ‘respectable family man’. However, this did not hinder his future career, nor as we will see, did it affect his ability to maintain close family ties with his former spouse.

Mending former relationships

Over time, Forsyth was able to repair his relationship  with his first wife and mother of 6 of his children. In 2013, Forsyth admitted to secretly nursing Calvert as she battled with dementia. He made regular trips to her care facility when her family could no longer care for her, due to her deteriorating health. Before this, Calvert had also been Forsyth’s guest of honour at his 80th birthday party in 2008. She also attended a special Mother’s Day party with his third wife and children from his relationships. His daughter, Julie, has previously noted her pride in her father’s ability to ensure the children of his three wives were able to get along without any acrimony.

What we can take from this?

Despite Forsyth’s huge career potentially hindering relationships in his early years of fame, his desire to ensure close family ties allowed any former acrimony to be quelled. While the breakdown of any relationship is undoubtedly upsetting, Forsyth’s ability to maintain harmonious relationships post-divorce shows us that familial ties need not suffer in the long term. His memory can therefore be seen to serve two purposes: one as a talented entertainer, and the other as a man committed to preserving positive family relations post-divorce.

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