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Robey, George

Robey, George (1869–1954). Comedian. Born George Wade, son of a civil engineer, and educated in London, Dresden, and briefly at Cambridge, Robey began to appear at Birmingham's smoking-concerts and rose rapidly. With a London debut in 1891, he quickly established a successful career in music-hall, variety, pantomime, revue, operetta, and musical comedy. Belonging to the greatest period of music-hall, he was billed as ‘The Prime Minister of Mirth’, relying on gesture and facial expression while wearing pseudo-clerical black. Impeccable diction (even in patter songs), timing, and mimicry contributed to memorable character-monologues. During the First World War, Robey appeared in revues, and raised large sums of money for wartime charities (CBE 1919), making similar efforts in 1939–45. Radio, in later years, seldom did him justice, but films, a solitary stage appearance as Falstaff (1935), television, and concerts occupied him into his eighties. He was knighted early in 1954.

A. S. Hargreaves

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