DEAD: Joseph Grimaldi

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Joseph Grimaldi (aged 58)
English actor, comedian and dancer

Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837) was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era. In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler’s Wells and Covent Gardentheatres. He became so dominant on the London comic stage that the harlequinade role of Clown became known as “Joey”, and both the nickname and Grimaldi’s whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns. Grimaldi originated catchphrases such as “Here we are again!”, which continue to feature in modern pantomimes.

DEATH: Mary died in 1834, and Grimaldi moved to 33 Southampton Street, Islington, where he spent the last few years of his life alone as a depressed alcoholic. On 31 May 1837 he complained of a tightening of the chest but recuperated enough to attend his local public house, The Marquis of Cornwallis, where he spent a convivial evening entertaining fellow patrons and drinking to excess. He returned home that evening and was found dead in bed by his housekeeper the following morning. The coroner recorded that he had “died by the visitation of God”. Grimaldi was buried in St. James’s Churchyard, Pentonville, on 5 June 1837. The burial site and the area around it was later named Joseph Grimaldi Park.

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