b. Emile Richeux, 1903, Ramsgate, Kent, England, d. 1985, England. One of six children born to Jules and Agnes Richeux, who later ran the Royal Artillery Theatre in south-east London. Widowed, his mother married Frank Littler. Emile’s surviving siblings were sisters Winifred, Blanche and Sylvia and brother Prince. His mother and stepfather continued to run the theatre and eventually Emile, Blanche (b. 1899, Ramsgate, Kent, England) and Prince (b. 1901, Ramsgate, Kent, England, d. 1973) followed this tradition. Collectively and individually they acquired theatrical holdings in London and the provinces through the 20s and 30s.
In 1931 Emile married actress-singer Cora Goffin (b. 26 April 1902, London, England, d. 10 May 2004, England). He produced plays, pantomime and many musicals. Generally, Emile and Blanche produced shows with Prince running the business side. Through the 40s and early 50s, their successes increased; among revivals and original shows they staged, many of them at London’s Coliseum Theatre, were White Horse Inn, Maid Of The Mountains, Glamorous Nights, Careless Rapture, Show Boat, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Quaker Girl, Song Of Norway, Annie Get Your Gun, Brigadoon, Charley’s Aunt, Lilac Time, King’s Rhapsody and Love From Judy. During the war years the Littlers staged concerts for soldiers and heightened their abiding interest in pantomime. Indeed, at the end of the 40s Emile started a magazine dedicated to the genre.
Meanwhile, Prince Littler, who had married actress-singer Nora Delaney, gained control of the Stoll chain of theatres, expanding still further when the group merged with the Moss Empire chain. In a Littler pantomime at an early stage in her career was Julie Andrews, who appeared in Aladdin (1951) at the Casino. Television was not feared by Littler who saw the publicity advantages of screening a live transmission of an excerpt from his 1952 pantomime, Jack And Jill, starring Hy Hazell and also featuring Harry Welchman. He also ran the Emile Littler Actors Charitable fund and sponsored the Emile Littler Award for the Most Promising Actor and Actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Blanche, who had married George Robey, had become Lady Robey when her husband was knighted in 1954. Their work in the theatre and for charity helped bring royal honours to Prince, who was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1957, and Emile, who was knighted in 1974. In the 60s Emile’s shows included a revival of the ever-popular The Desert Song and important new imports from America, The Sound Of Music and Flower Drum Song.