Robb Wilton

Comedian, Film actor

1881 – 1957

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Who was Robb Wilton?

Robb Wilton, born Robert Wilton Smith, was an English comedian and comic actor who was famous for his filmed monologues in the 1930s and 1940s in which he played incompetent authority figures.

Wilton was born in Everton, Liverpool, and had a dry Lancashire accent which suited his comic persona as a procrastinating and work-shy impediment to the general public. 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.

He has been acknowledged as an influence by fellow Lancashire comedians Ken Dodd and Les Dawson, and the film historian Jeffrey Richards has cited him as a key influence for the TV sitcom Dad's Army; he made several monologues in the person of a layabout husband who wryly takes part in the Home Guard. His gentle, if pointed, manner of comedy is similar to the wistful adventures of the more famous Walmington-on-Sea platoon.

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Born
Aug 28, 1881
Everton, Liverpool
Nationality
  • England
Profession
Lived in
  • Merseyside
Died
May 1, 1957
London

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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