Star Archive


Sir George Robey (1869 - 1954)

British cinema is full of performers whose best work lies elsewhere. Performers who have passed away leaving little more than a name, a catch phrase and the few crumbs of business they managed to do for the cameras. George Robey was one of those performers. In his day he was one of the greatest names in music hall with a strong line in saucy patter and introducing the world to such songs as If You Were the Only Girl in the World. Now we're just left with his billing as The Prime Minister of Mirth, a handful of significant film appearances and some scraps.

He was born in London as George Edward Wade. His father was an engineer who installed trams and the family moved extensively including spending long periods in Germany. He was encouraged to go into the tram business as a clerk but preferred to be an entertainer gradually giving up the day job and turning pro, changing his name as he did so.

He spent some time working as a stooge for a stage hypnotist but he really excelled in comic songs and patter. He quickly rose to headline status. His energy was legendary - in his hay day he frequently appeared at five different venues a night and even in his 60s he appeared in a non-stop revue giving 16 performances a day. Revue was his main refuge as the music hall era drew to a close and he also made some forays into musicals, operetta and even the legitimate theatre, most notably as Falstaff.

Naturally he was lured to film. He earned 700 a week for his efforts in the early 20s though he really needed sound to give audiences the full benefit of his art, and by the time that came along he was getting a bit long in the tooth to be a proper film star. Still he did give some performances worth treasuring including his second stab at Sancho Panza in Don Quixote and Falstaff in Henry V (tweaked by Olivier to find room for the character).     

George Robey   

Filmography 

1900 The Rats
1913 Good Queen Bess
1913 And Very Nice Too
1914 George Robey Turns Anarchist
1916 Blood Tells
1917 Doing His Bit
1918 George Robey's Day Off
1923 The Rest Cure
1923 One Arabian Night
1923 Don Quixote
1923 Harlequinade
1924 The Prehistoric Man
1928 The Barrister
1928 Safety First
1929 The Bride
1929 Mrs Mephistopheles
1932 The Temperance Fete
1932 Marry Me
1933 Adventures of Don Quixote
1934 Chu Chin Chow
1935 Birds of a Feather
1935 Royal Cavalcade
1936 Calling the Tune
1936 Men of Yesterday
1936 Southern Roses
1939 A Girl Must Live
1942 Salute John Citizen
1943 They Met in the Dark
1943 Variety Jubilee
1944 Henry V
1945 Waltz Time
1946 The Trojan Brothers
1952 The Pickwick Papers

George Robey at Amazon UK    

George Robey at Amazon US