Robert Nesbitt

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b. 11 January 1906, London, England, d. 3 January 1995, England. Educated at Repton and Oxford University, Nesbitt wrote lyrics for cabaret acts in London’s night spots and by the early 30s was writing…
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b. 11 January 1906, London, England, d. 3 January 1995, England. Educated at Repton and Oxford University, Nesbitt wrote lyrics for cabaret acts in London’s night spots and by the early 30s was writing and directing shows in the West End, sometimes in collaboration with choreographer Frederick Ashton. In 1935 Nesbitt and André Charlot presented the musical Shall We Reverse? at the Royal Comedy Theatre. Featured in the show were George Benson, Isa Bowman, Edward Cooper, Queenie Leonard and Iris Travers. Nesbitt staged shows in London for the Crazy Gang at the Victoria Palace Theatre, pantomimes at the Palladium, and helped move forward the career of unknown comic Sid Field, but passed on Julie Andrews, deeming her too young, at the age of 12, to appear on stage with daringly clad (for the day) chorus girls. He married Iris Lockwood, a former musical comedy actress who had been one of Charles B. Cochran’s starlets, the ‘Young Ladies’. At the London Casino in the late 40s, Nesbitt staged a succession of Latin Quarter revues, evoking images of Parisian spectaculars on the London scene. He continued in similar vein through the 50s with shows such as Plaisirs De Paris (1957). With Harold Purcell he co-wrote the book for The Glorious Days (1953), which starred Anna Neagle in four roles, from which was evolved the screenplay for Lilacs In The Spring (1955, US title: Let’s Make Up).

Although most often working in London, on Broadway Nesbitt coordinated the revue, Catch A Star (1955), which featured Marc Breaux, Pat Carroll, and Denny Desmond, and his work was also to be seen in the playground towns of Blackpool, England, and Las Vegas, USA. He was responsible for creating the lavish Talk Of The Town dinner-theatre in the former London Hippodrome where major stars from the UK and USA might be seen. In December 1969 he supervised A Talent To Amuse, a celebration of Noël Coward’s 70th birthday, at London’s Phoenix Theatre, which was produced by Martin Tickner, directed by Wendy Toye, and featured among many Jessie Matthews, Nigel Patrick and Douglas Squires. Nesbitt is best remembered for his staging of many spectacular variety shows, among which were more than 20 Royal Variety Performances, between the mid-40s and the late 70s.