Peter Sallis, the British actor known for the voice of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit passed away today. He was 96.
In 1989 a stop motion claymation short film that had been nearly a decade in the making arrived. Entitled “A Grand Day Out” it would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award that year, and put creator Nick Park on the map.
Peter Sallis was at this time known for his role in the soap Last of the Summer Wine, where he was known for doing a Northern accent. Park wrote to Sallis offering him £50 to voice Wallace. Since this was his graduation project, and it was already a full year into the project in 1983, Park didn’t expect to get a “yes”. But to his surprise Sallis agreed. Sallis apparently thought the film would never be completed, and when he learned in 1989 it was finally coming out, it is said he swore in surprise. Sallis continued voicing the character through 2005’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which he won an “Annie Award” for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. His last turn as Wallace was 2010’s Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention. He was made an OBE by the Queen in 2007.
According to the BBC, “he died peacefully with his family by his side.”
See Nick Park’s statement below:
“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. Working with him 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. Peter had naturally funny bones and was a great storyteller and raconteur off stage too and would keep us amused for hours.”
Rest in peace, Peter Sallis. We’ll have a bit of wensleydale in your honor.