(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