Kitty Roberts from the famous Robert Brothers’ Circus dynasty died on February 19 at the age of 85.
She began the Robert Brothers’ Circus with her husband Bobby, his brother Tommy and his wife Marie in 1944. It quickly became a favourite with wartime audiences, particularly in Scotland.
Born Kate Mednick on May 1, 1922 in London, she was the daughter of Maurice and Teresa Mednick, whose families came from the Ukraine. The Mednicks enjoyed the thriving music hall and variety theatre scene and took their children to see shows in London.
Kitty and her brother Isaac developed an interest in music and they began playing for weddings and masonic halls, billed as The World’s Youngest Accordionists. At the age of 12, she made her professional stage debut with her brother at the Theatre Royal, Edmonton. The partnership worked consistently in variety throughout the country and entertained Canadian troops in Britain when the Second World War broke out.
After meeting her husband, she and her sister-in-law worked in a musical and dance act as the Robert Sisters at the Edinburgh Palladium in the summer of 1943, a year before they and their husbands began the Robert Brothers’ Circus.
As the circus grew and prospered, Roberts took on the business side of the organisation, as well as appearing in the ring with horses, in a riding act and a dog act. The show stopped in 1982, as their growing families made it impossible to promote shows. Kitty and Bobby had three children – Bobby Jr, Tommy and Maureen.
Kitty died at the circus winter quarters in Polebrook, Oundle, and was interred beside her husband and other members of the Roberts family. A tribute to her at the funeral was paid by Norman Barrett, who spent his early years with the Roberts Brothers’ Circus, and Aled Jones gave a rendition of Amazing Grace.
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