Eddie Large, the bigger, brasher half of the British comedy duo Little and Large, died on April 2 from coronavirus. He had been in the hospital in Bristol, England, receiving treatment due to heart failure. He was 78.
Born Edward Hugh McGinnis in Glasgow on June 25, 1941, his family moved to Manchester after World War II, where he grew up across the street from the Manchester City football complex.
Singer/guitarist Cyril Mead had no idea what he was in for when he played a gig in 1960, only to have McGinnis heckle him, then join him onstage for a song, then befriend him, then become his longtime comedy partner.
Together, they were Little and Large. They began gigging as a duo in 1963, and found their mark performing on a TV talent show in 1971.
By 1977, they’d made it to a royal gala, with an introduction from Bob Hope.
From there, they got their own sketch comedy series, The Little and Large Show, which premiered on ITV, then jumped to BBC1, airing across 11 seasons (six episodes each), plus seven specials between 1978 and 1991.
After that, though, Large largely left the scene (although he would appear in the mid-2000s on the ITV sketch show The Impressionable Jon Culshaw).
He had to stop performing and touring quite so much, due to his chronic heart problems. He received a heart transplant in 2003.
His son, Ryan McGinnis, told the BBC that the hardest part of his father’s death was not being able to be there with him in the hospital at the end.
“We always had that hope that dad would be coming home but as soon as he was diagnosed with COVID-19, he just deteriorated quite quickly and that was the end unfortunately. You’d be speaking to him [on a video call] and it looked like he was on death’s door and struggling to speak to us,” McGinnis told the BBC. “But then you’d hear off-camera a nurse coming into the room and dad’s eyes would open wide and he’d say: ‘Here she is, my number one, Miss Southmead 1978 runner up’. You could just hear the nurses laughing and you’re thinking he’s so close to potentially not being being with us, and he’s still making them laugh. That’s all he wanted to do and what he did all the time.”