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Liverpool Entertainers Robb Wilton

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Quote Originally Posted by Bob Edwards View Post
Robb Wilton whose real name was Robert Smith was born on 28 August 1881 at 34 Tillotson Street, Liverpool, just off Mount Vernon. He was the son of Joseph Smith, a compositor, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Poland, an actress. Despite an education that was intended to prepare him for the engineering trade, he made his stage début at the Theatre Royal, Garston in 1899. He played the villain for over three years but, during scene-changes he would occupy the audience with his amusing Pie-face characterisation. Wilton's comedy emerged from the tradition of English music hall, especially popular in the North of England, and he was a contemporary of Frank Randle and George Formby, Sr. He portrayed the human face of bureaucracy; for example, playing a policeman who shilly-shallies his way out of acting upon a reported murder by pursuing a contrarian line of questioning. Wilton, rubbing his face in a world-weary way, would fiddle with his props while his characters blithely and incompetently 'went about their work', his humour embodying the everyday and the absurd – and the inherent absurdity of the everyday. While playing the villain in The Greed of Gold at the Alexandra Theatre, Hull, in 1903, he met and courted the play's heroine, the actress Florence Palmer (died 1956); defying theatrical convention the villain married the heroine at Holy Trinity Church, Stalybridge, on 21 January 1904. This was to be a devotedly close partnership both professionally and personally: Florence acted as her husband's associate in sketches, and they continued to work together until their only child, Robert, was born in 1907. Sadly Robert died in 1943 having fallen from a window during the wartime blackout.


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